Thank you! Good news for DeRay McKesson and the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of openly gay activist DeRay McKesson. The court decided on Monday that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit should have checked with Louisiana’s state Supreme Court before pushing the case upwards to the high court. As such, the case has been pushed back down to the state Supreme Court.
But what’s the case in question? According to CNBC, the case is focused on a July 2016 protest around the murder of Alton Sterling to police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The protest took place on a highway in front of the city’s police headquarters. An unnamed officer alleges that he was hit by a piece of concrete or rock thrown by a protester. While no one knows who threw the alleged rock, the unnamed cop decided to sue McKesson as the leader of the organized protest.
The court case ran up to a federal district court, which rejected the officer’s stance. But then, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision based on the argument that “a violent confrontation with a police officer was a foreseeable effect of negligently directing a protest.”
I've been in this legal battle since Nov 2016 and the Supreme Court vacated the 5th Circuit decision against me that said that individual organizers can be civilly liable for injuries/damages. This is win for every organizer & activist. Let's keep fighting. https://t.co/CPL6pWzusg
— deray (@deray) November 2, 2020
But again, the Supreme Court has reversed that appeals court ruling and said that the state Supreme Court must decide first because of the case’s “novel issues of state law.”
Specifically, the justices wrote, “The Louisiana Supreme Court, to be sure, may announce the same duty as the Fifth Circuit.” They then added that the 5th Circuit should not have “ventured into so uncertain an area” of law that was “laden with value judgments and fraught with implications for First Amendment rights” without first looking to the Louisiana Supreme Court for guidance.
After hearing the Supreme Court decision, McKesson released a statement saying the decision, “recognizes that holding me liable for organizing a protest because an unidentifiable person threw a rock raises First Amendment concerns.”
“I’m gratified that the Supreme Court vacated the ruling below, but amazingly, the fight is not over,” he added.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the case. McKesson will have to see what the Louisiana Supreme Court thinks of the lawsuit. And then he might wind up back at the federal Supreme Court’s doors.