SCOTUS Declines BLM Activist’s Appeal

( – The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist DeRay McKesson after a police officer filed a lawsuit connected to injuries sustained at a BLM rally. Unrest erupted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016 when a white police officer shot and killed a black suspect outside a convenience store. Demonstrations alleging police brutality soon followed, and an unnamed officer was hit in the head with a piece of concrete by an unidentified protestor, causing him a brain injury.

The police officer, named in court documents as John Doe, subsequently sued, claiming McKesson failed to calm the crowd. The American Civil Liberties Union, backing Mr. McKesson, said the First Amendment to the Constitution protects their client from legal consequences.

The case has weaved through the legal system since 2016, starting with a federal district court ruling in 2017 that determined McKesson could not be sued. The US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit overturned that decision, prompting McKesson to appeal to the US Supreme Court, which directed the matter back to Louisiana. The Louisiana Supreme Court then decided that McKesson could be found liable.

The BLM activist subsequently returned to the nation’s highest Court, but on April 15, it declined to hear his arguments. The Court refused to rule on McKesson’s liability and expressed “no view about the merits” of the case. No Justices dissented from the ruling.

In a press statement, Mr. McKesson said if he were held liable, individuals would be too frightened to attend demonstrations, resulting in a chilling erosion of democratic rights and freedoms. “But people don’t need to be afraid to show up. The Constitution still protects our right to protest,” he added.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor, while not disagreeing with the Court’s decision, urged the Louisiana Supreme Court to consider Counterman v Colorado in its judgment. That case determined that a defendant’s subjective intent to harm a victim must be established.

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