Upside Down Freedom

Writing upon learning that a federal appeals court in Louisiana (5th Circuit) ruled that a cop can sue a protest organizer for injuries caused by another person during a demonstration, ratifying a novel legal theory that threatens to further suppress protests and First Amendment rights more broadly.

When the British Army marched out of Yorktown to surrender to the American Revolutionary Army and their French Allies, they played the song “The World Turned Upside Down”–because a King had been overthrown and “ordinary people” were claiming they had rights! Such a radical idea Turned the World Upside Down.

Given the US Supreme Court’s recent assault on the freedom of the people, the apparent ethical defects of some members of the court, and the tendency of all government to become tyrannical, America is again being turned upside down. One expects the 5th Circuit ruling, if appealed, will become law of the land.

When the British Redcoats shot down Americans, including a 13-year-old black boy named Crispus Attucks, during the Boston Massacre, a few years before the Revolution officially started with the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, the rule of law had evolved to the point where even the King of England’s redcoats (the cops of the day) could be prosecuted for murdering civilians. The redcoats were prosecuted. John Adams defended them, and they were acquitted by a jury of the charges of manslaughter.

Today, in America turned upside down, according to the 5th Circuit, the First Amendment rights now are: if you organize a protest, and someone during the protest injures a cop (even if the organizer did not participate in harming the cop) the cop can sue the organizer.

I am confident our “law enforcement professionals” will not abuse such a power, unlike say, cops in Russia, or Redcoats after the Boston Massacre. Sarcasm? Well… Might one predict how the Supreme (sic) Court will rule on appeal? No qualified good faith immunity (QGFI) for “protesters”–though today’s Redcoats, the cops, are granted immunity from being sued for civil rights violations when they injure or even kill citizens– citizens petitioning for redress of grievances are such a pain to good governance–which is why the cops need QGFI so they are free to clear those buggers by any means necessary.

And so America is turned upside down. Geo III would be happy. Send out the Redcoats to teach the colonial upstarts a lesson, and if someone injures a Redcoat, the Redcoat can sue the organizer of the demonstration, but the Redcoat is insulated from being sued for violating the rights of the citizen.

Instead of government being accountable to the people under law, the people are denuded of rights to hold government accountable. Government above the law, where the King and his minions are “immune” from suit, was what England fought to keep during the American Revolution.

American patriots fought, primarily for a decade with innovative strategic nonviolent means, for a new world: one in which the people could hold the government accountable to law. The radical idea of people ruling government under law, swept the world in the decades and centuries following the American Revolution–and that result is why the 4th of July was celebrated, not only in America, but by freedom loving people around the world–and many other countries adopted the American World Upside Down repudiation of Kings and government above the law.

Worlds turn. People forget the struggles of the past, the lessons learned, the principles established. And should the US Supreme Court ratify the 5th Circuit holding, the world will again be turned upside down. From America the land where the rule of law subjects government to suits by the people ruled on by a jury of the people, to a world the Redcoats would embrace.

For American patriots, it is a world turned upside down.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.