It’s now perfectly legal to flip off a cop.A police officer can’t simply pull you over because you gave them the “finger,” according to a federal appeals court ruling from 2013.
The 14-page opinion issued by the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”
The ruling comes in response to a case where John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz were forced to bring suit against two police officers who arrested Swartz back in May of 2006. The arrest was made simply as a result of John Swartz flipping off the officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, New York.
Swartz was charged with “disorderly conduct,” the common way that officers charge people when they have not committed any crime.
Even though a federal judge in the Northern District of New York had granted summary judgement in favor of the officers back in July of 2011, the Court of Appeals erased that decision.
The cops tried to defend themselves, saying that the did have probable cause because they thought being flipped off meant the couple was “trying to get my attention for some reason.”
But the court didn’t buy this ridiculous excuse, saying that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”
In the end, they ruled that that “gesture” of insult is protected.