A couple arrested at a rally after refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the federal government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.
Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally at the state Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, where Bush gave a speech. A judge dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an order closing the case was filed in U.S. District Court.
“This settlement is a real victory not only for our clients but for the First Amendment,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia. “As a result of the Ranks’ courageous stand, public officials will think twice before they eject peaceful protesters from public events for exercising their right to dissent.”
But, will they really? Who really believes that? Where is the accountability? Why must the innocent American taxpayer pay for this injustice? Those who violated the law will not bear the brunt of the punishment. And, thus will have no incentive to curb their behavior.
Moreover, White House spokesman Blair Jones said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing:
“The parties understand that this settlement is a compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses and risks of litigation and is not an admission of fault, liability, or wrongful conduct.”