U.S. Supreme Court Allows Nazi Salute Case to Go to Trial

A man who gave a Nazi salute at a Santa Cruz City Council meeting nine years ago is entitled to a civil rights trial in federal court in San Jose as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court action Monday, KTVU.com reports.

The high court declined today to hear the city of Santa Cruz's appeal of a lower court ruling that allowed Robert Norse to go ahead with a trial on his lawsuit against the city, according to the station.

The Supreme Court's action leaves in place a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last year that ordered a trial.

Norse, an activist on homeless issues, was ejected from a council meeting on March 12, 2002, after giving a silent Nazi salute.

He reportedly made the gesture in support of a woman who was told she could not address the council because the public comment period was over.

Norse claimed in his civil rights lawsuit that his expulsion violated his constitutional right of free speech.

City officials, meanwhile, have argued they were entitled to eject him because his action was disruptive and public comment was completed.

In last year's ruling, an 11-judge panel of the appeals court said unanimously that Norse retained some free speech rights at the public meeting even though the comment period was over. That ruling was the third time the long-running case went before the appeals court.

The future trial will determine whether Norse was expelled because of disruptive behavior or because of his point of view.

Monday was the first day of the Supreme Court's 2011-12 term.

Click for complete coverage on the Robert Norse case from KTVU.com.