Tag Archives: free speech

Case of the Week – Flash Your Vehicle Headlamps – And What Do You Get? – A Ticket!

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Michael Elli, a resident of the City of Ellisville, Missouri, observed a speed-trap in the City of Ellisville, and communicated to other drivers approaching from the opposite direction by flashing his headlamps to warn them that they should proceed with caution. The flashing of headlamps is commonly understood as conveying the message to slow down and proceed with caution. Of course, an officer in a marked police vehicle saw him and issued a ticket. When he appeared in municipal court, he was advised by the judge that the fine for using headlamps to communicate the presence of speed-trap is $1,000!

Elli went to Federal Court and requested a preliminary injunction to stop the practice of ticketing individuals who flash their headlamps.

Decision: Preliminary Injunction Granted. The judge stated that the loss of First Amendment freedoms for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.

So it looks like flashing your headlamps is protected free speech, at least in the Eastern District of Missouri!

Read the case at

Click to access Order_Granting_Preliminary_Injuction.pdf

And Your Case of the Week – Is Clicking “Like” on Facebook Protected Speech by First Amendment?

It could be according to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A sheriff’s deputy supported the Sheriff’s opponent and “liked” the Facebook page of his opponent. Of course, the sheriff won re-election and the deputy who supported his opponent was terminated. The Court ruled that “liking” a candidate on the internet is the internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard which the Supreme Court has ruled is protected speech.

See Bland v. Roberts at http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121671.P.pdf

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