The U.S. Court of Appeals here has reinstated charges of illegal camping against five peace demonstrators arrested in December for allegedly camping around the clock in Lafayette Park.
The charges were dismissed April 23 by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Richey, who ruled that the demonstrators were protected by the First Amendment's protection of the free exercise of religion.
The protesters contended that they had been acting out of sincerely held religious beliefs.
However, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said in an order filed yesterday that the Supreme Court has ruled that the ban on camping in Lafayette Park meets the legal test required for restrictions on expression motivated by sincere religious beliefs.
Noting that the issue on which it ruled was a narrow one, the Court of Appeals panel -- made up of Judges Harry T. Edwards, Ruth B. Ginsburg and James L. Buckley -- said the charges "should not have been dismissed for the reasons given." The appeals court sent the case back to the lower court for further action.