Court: You Can Flip Off a Police Officer

A federal appeals court recently ruled on the constitutionality of giving a cop the finger.


While it's probably not a wise thing to do, "flipping off" a cop with your middle finger is not reason enough to get pulled over and arrested.

The Huffington Post reports that a 14-page opinion released by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Jan. 3, that the "ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity."

The "ancient gesture", however, is what got John Swartz in trouble in May 2006. The Huffington Post reports that Swartz and his wife "Judy Mayton-Swartz 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, but the charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds."

In July 2011, a federal judge in the Northern District of New York granted summary judgement to the police officers but the Jan. 3 decision erased that and ordered the lower court to take up the case again.

Would you give a cop the middle finger? Do you think you should have the right to do it or should people who do it face legal consequences? Share your opinion in the comments area below.

Chris Sullivan January 07, 2013 at 05:33 PM
This is old news. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/03/flipping-off-cops-is-legal-not-advised/ See also: the First Amendment
Linda Sherman January 07, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Some police officers behave inappropriately and do not deserve the respect of their uniform but there is no need to lower yourself to them by disrespecting yourself with this kind of action.
Nabob January 08, 2013 at 01:34 AM
I wouldn't rely on that court protection if you're planning to give the finger to a Philly cop. They'll beat the living crap out of you and when you struggle to cover up they will say you were attacking them. They'll find a way to have you arrested for the altercation. But hey, you'll feel better knowing your first amendment right was protected technically.
Jay Hirsh January 08, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Really, get a life. It just goes to show the juvenile mentality of any one who gives the finger. Grow up! It's dirty and disgusting. Your mother would be proud of you. I think you just lower yourself. How many people out there really know what it actually means. Silence is golden.
Chris Sullivan January 08, 2013 at 01:38 PM
By no means am I advocating this, I'm just saying that not only is it protected under our First Amendment rights, but that it has also been previously reaffirmed by the courts. In other words: It's not news.
CalbernDontLie January 08, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Why not? This is America we should be able to do this by law. If someone wants to do this while burning a flag, fine!
bill kehoe January 09, 2013 at 01:28 AM
how about chucking a moon? Would that right be protected under our constitution?


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