Skip to comments.Florida] Supreme Court strikes down police insignia law
Posted on 06/24/2005 10:55:54 AM PDT by bwteim
Florida]Supreme Court strikes down police insignia law
(AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court struck down a state law that bans wearing or displaying law enforcement insignia, such as "NYPD."
In a 5-to-2 opinion, the high court said the law is, quote: "unconstitutionally overbroad, vague and violates substantive due process." The law carries a maximum punishment of a year in jail.
The law banned the wearing of clothing with the following words: "police," "patrolman," "agent," "sheriff," "deputy," "trooper," "highway patrol," "wildlife officer," "marine patrol officer," "state attorney, "public defender," "marshal," "constable" and "bailiff."
The court challenge began after a woman was arrested at a convenience store in 2001 for wearing a T-shirt that said "Pinellas County Sheriff's Office." She was convicted by a jury and ordered to pay 300 dollars in fines and court costs.
Who passed that stupid law?
The elected courts of Florida are more out-of-control (make the constitution say what you want it to) than our federal appointed courts.
See background at
"The law was passed in 1991 as part of the so-called "blue-light laws," which came after a series of violent attacks in which crooks with blue flashing lights on their dashboards pulled people over and took their cars.
But part of the law went a step further, making it a misdemeanor for civilians to wear the insignias or uniforms of any police agency, even if they had no criminal intent.
A kid playing cops and robbers - a badge pinned on his shirt - could be breaking the law. So could a Halloween partygoer dressed as a constable. So could a bachelor-party stripper busting out of a fake cop uniform.
And so was anyone who wore NYPD ball caps or T-shirts after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
I've got a Bomb Technician T-shirt that I love. On the back it says "If you see me running try and keep up!"
My brother-in-law is a police detective, and he has a T-shirt with a CPD logo that says, "CHICAGO HOMICIDE - Our Day Begins When Yours Ends". Great stuff!
HUH?? The Florida court UPHELD free speech rights.
Fans of Sting's old band are overjoyed.
"Free speech" is not an umbrella of your own choosing, nor was it ever intended to be.
The heart of the idea of free speech as a political right is political - shout from the streetcorner that the emperor is naked and still he can't arrest you. Which is why campaign finance reform should have been rejected by the court.
But we do not simply allow any form of "speech", anywhere, anytime for any reason and no matter what the consequences. And that is really the test. There should not be conseqences for disagreeing with your government or with any government official or government action.
But you cannot yell fire in a crowded movie theatre - your speech can negligently cause a stampede, and we can restrict it because of those affects.
Dressing in a manner which presents yourself as an "official", or as part of such "officials" might be "speech" in someone's view but when you are in fact not such an "official" or not part of such "officials" it is can be assumed to be true and thus constitute a fraudulent, and potentially dangerous, misrepresentation of yourself. If a child let's the molester into the house because he wares a badge, a nametag and a cap that says NYPD, that is not "free" speech, it is misreprentation and that form of misreprentation should not be protected - just because someone thinks its fun to do. It tolerates something that is potentially very dangerous and the public should not have to sort out when and when not that potential is present.
No, you should not have the right to look like a cop just because you think it's fun. It isn't fun to the society that is trying to protect the genuine uses of your "free speech".
The lists of banned words for clothing was probably the most troublsome part, especially the generic word "police" ...
But, as I said, the court would probably accept a law that was more specific in restricting garb that was likely to cause confusion ... right now, from this article, this law seems to restrict T-shirts that state things like "Support the police!" or "F the Police!" ... would anyone be charged for those under that overturned law?
Probably not. But the court should not look at how a law MIGHT be used, but at how it COULD be used ... hwich is the problem with the recent eminent domain ruling of SCOTUS.
Heheh. Hadn't even made the connection.
As far as I know, this ruling did not overturn laws against impersonating a police officer, just the overly broad prohibition against having various words or symbols on clothing. I would have to believe wearing a police uniform and acting like a police officer are still against the law.
This isn't about dressing up as a cop to fool people. It's about whether one can wear a baseball cap with "NYPD" on it.
Stupid, stupid law. And worth striking down.
It won't take long to get you on the train.
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