Washington Post by Robert Barnes
February 27, 2018
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. went to the videotape, and he found it “pretty chilling.”
He was talking about the November 2006 meeting of the Riviera Beach City Council in Florida, and the arrest of Fane Lozman, a longtime thorn in the side of council members.
On this day, like many others, Lozman was talking about civic corruption. The presiding council member told him to stop, then called on a police officer to “carry him out.”
“I mean, the fellow is up there for about 15 seconds, and the next thing he knows, he’s being led off in handcuffs, speaking in a very calm voice the whole time,” Roberts said at oral arguments Tuesday as the Supreme Court contemplated an arrest that has turned into a major First Amendment test. “Now, the council may not have liked what he was talking about, but that doesn’t mean they get to cuff him and lead him out.”
The rest of the court seemed to agree with Roberts, and seemed sympathetic to Lozman, whose suit against the city for allegedly violating his free-speech rights with a retaliatory arrest was thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
A jury had found that there was probable cause to arrest Lozman, although not for anything he was ever charged with, and he was never actually prosecuted. In the 11th Circuit, although not all others, a finding that an arrest was reasonable is enough to keep a retaliation suit from going forward. [READ MORE]