Demonstrators rally on Halifax Mall before a sit-in in front of Sen. Phil Berger's office door during a

Travis Long

Demonstrators rally on Halifax Mall before a sit-in in front of Sen. Phil Berger's office door during a "Moral Monday" demonstration at the General Assembly, Monday, June 9, 2014, in Raleigh.

‘Moral Monday’ activists take on protest rules

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — A Wake County judge is hearing a court challenge on new rules governing the Legislative Building.

The judge on Friday hears a lawsuit that the state NAACP filed alleging the rules on actions inside the General Assembly’s meeting place are unconstitutional and are an attempt to silence protesters.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County said he was baffled by the lawsuit. He says the rules give protesters more freedom to express themselves than rules existing before last month.

Attorneys with the NAACP said the rules are vague and overly broad because they give Republican leaders too much discretion and stifle dissent.

The rules were changed at the beginning of the current General Assembly session for the first time since the 1980s after hundreds of arrests last year.