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U.S. Supreme Court rules against anti-Bush protesters

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against protesters who argued that their constitutional rights were violated when Secret Service agents moved them away from where then-President George W. Bush was dining after a 2004 campaign stop in Southern Oregon.

The protesters asserted that they were moved two blocks, while a group of Bush supporters were allowed to remain one block away from the Jacksonville Inn.

In its ruling Tuesday, "this case is scarcely one in which the agents acted without a 'valid security reason,' " Justice Ruth Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous court.

Her opinion said that the protesters were within "weapons range," but supporters' access was blocked by a two-story building.

The dispute arose on Oct. 14, 2004, after Bush made a re-election campaign stop in Medford. Bush and his wife, Laura, made a last-minute change to dine on the inn's patio before their overnight stay.

An estimated 200 to 300 protesters were moved away from the inn. One of them, Michael Moss, was the lead plaintiff in a suit against agents Tim Wood and Rob Savage, alleging that the agents' actions favored one group over another in exercising their rights.

The high court's opinion overturned a 2012 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the protesters.

"No decision of which this court is aware ... would alert Secret Service agents engaged in crowd control that they bear a First Amendment obligation to make sure that groups with conflicting views are at all times in equivalent positions," Ginsburg wrote. "Nor would the maintenance of equal access make sense in the situation the agents here confronted...."

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