Federal appeals court holds flipping off a police officer is protected by the First Amendment
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Federal appeals court holds flipping off a police officer is protected by the First Amendment

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a district court decision Wednesday where a plaintiff sued a Michigan police officer for upgrading her traffic violation to a more serious speeding violation after she raised her middle finger at the cop.

A suburban Detroit police officer pulled over the plaintiff for speeding and issued her a non-moving violation. After she drove off, she flipped officer Minard off and the officer proceeded to stop her again less than 100 yards from the initial stop to upgrade her ticket to a more serious moving violation.

The plaintiff claimed that this was a violation of her Constitutional Fourth and First Amendment rights. Minard violated her right against unreasonable seizure when she was stopped a second time without probable cause. Extending her middle finger at the officer was also not a violation of any law and stopping her a second time to upgrade her ticket was an action to deter her from exercising her First Amendment rights to free speech and expression.

The officer moved for judgment based on qualified immunity, but the court found that his actions were a clear violation of the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.