Occupy Columbia’s challenge to the governor looks to be headed for federal court. The evening before a hearing scheduled in state court, Gov. Haley’s attorneys filed a motion to remove the case to federal district court in Columbia.
According to Mark Schnee, one of five attorneys for the Occupy protesters, if the move is granted, at the same time, the federal judge can decide whether to extend the temporary restraining order which allows them to stay overnight on Statehouse grounds. That order runs out in a few days.
The governor prompted the state Department of Public Safety to arrest the protesters for staying on the Capitol grounds in tents past 6 p.m. After seven were arrested, Occupy sued.
The federal court, if it takes the case, will also have to address the question of Occupy’s encampment while the case awaits a hearing.
The governor and state officials argue that occupiers can gain a permit and protest during daylight hours. The movement contends, as free speech, that the tents and sleeping bags are part of the message that the Statehouse is “their house” too.