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Judge: No pursuit of dance happiness allowed at Thomas Jefferson memorial

Thursday, January 28, 2010

WASHINGTON -- So you think you can dance at the Jefferson Memorial? Think again.

A federal judge has ruled against a woman who was arrested for dancing with a group of 17 others at the memorial dedicated to President Thomas Jefferson. The woman, Mary Oberwetter, and others were dancing to music on their headphones near midnight April 12, 2008, the eve of Jefferson's birthday.

A National Park Service officer told the group to stop dancing and arrested Oberwetter when she refused. Charges against her were later dropped.

But Oberwetter sued the Park Service last year, claiming a violation of her rights to free expression.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates says the inside of the memorial is not a public forum where people can dance, even if it's a silent dance party.

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