Federal Court Affirms Constitutional Right To Give Cops The Middle Finger

A police officer cannot pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday. In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “gesture…is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”

John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz had sued two police officers who arrested Swartz in May 2006 after he flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York’s disorderly conduct statute.

Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife when they arrived at their destination, claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The appeals court didn’t buy that explanation, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”

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