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Court Rules Flipping Off Police Is Constitutionally Protected

Apparently, shooting a bird at police is not a punishable offense after all. A courthouse in Michigan ruled in a 3-0 decision that a woman’s rights were violated when she was given a speeding ticket for flipping off a police officer in 2017. 

According to the Associated Press, Matthew Minard, a Detroit police officer, stopped Debra Cruise-Gulyas and wrote her a ticket for a lesser violation. Cruise-Gulyas gave Minard the middle finger after the traffic stop, to which Minard pulled her over again and changed the ticket to a speeding violation, a more serious offense.

As a result of the ruling, Cruise-Gulyas can now proceed with her lawsuit that claims her free speech rights and those protecting her against unreasonable seizure were violated. The appeals court agreed and said in its ruling that Minard “should have known better” than to give Cruise-Gulyas a speeding ticket. 

Minard claimed police were protected from personal liability unless they violate a person’s clearly established constitutional or statutory rights. However, the appeals court ruled the officer violated her rights under the First Amendment, the right to free speech, and the Fourth Amendment, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. 

They said in a statement, “Fits of rudeness or lack of gratitude may violate the Golden Rule,” the court said. “But that doesn’t make them illegal or for that matter punishable or for that matter grounds for a seizure.”

Flipping the bird is protected
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