Police Officers' Suing The DOJ For Violating Their 'Right' To Deploy Force Without Restrictions Shot Down By Federal Judge

from the internal-eyerolls-omitted dept

The 125 members of the Seattle Police Department who sued the Dept. of Justice for violating their “right” to deploy force on their own terms (in order to “make it through work safely”) have received their answer from a federal district court judge. In short, the response is, “You’re wrong,” along with the addedum, “and please stop asking.”

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Seattle police officers who said new guidelines on using force jeopardized their safety.

The officers’ arguments were unsupported by the Constitution or case law, Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said in an opinion issued Monday.

The crowdfunded lawsuit sloppily rewrote the Second Amendment as a “right” to self-defense. Any restrictions on use of force infringed on this imaginary “right.” Not only did the Dept. of Justice’s remedies — prompted by years of excessive force deployment and biased policing — somehow violate these officers’ rights, but they apparently also granted “criminals” (which basically means anyone who isn’t a cop in this context) extra rights.

The officers who signed on to the lawsuit, without the support of the police guild, objected, saying the policy elevates the rights of criminal suspects over those of police.

And they weren’t too happy with the additional oversight, either.

They argued that Merrick Bobb, the court-appointed monitor overseeing the reforms, refused input from the police department in the drafting of the new policy, and that it violates their constitutional right to defend themselves.

As to the creative interpretation of the Second Amendment, Judge Pechman had this to say [pdf link]:

Plaintiffs can point to no case establishing that the Second Amendment codified a free-standing right to self-defense, as opposed to case law interpreting the textual Second Amendment rights to “keep and bear arms” in light of their purposes (which the Supreme Court has held include the facilitation of self-defense)…

In the criminal context, the Ninth Circuit rejected the idea that recent Supreme Court cases confirmed a Second Amendment right to use a weapon in any particular way: “[N]either [Heller nor McDonald] concerned the use of a weapon, as distinct from mere possession. . . .” United States v. Morsette, 622 F.3d 1200, 1202 (9th Cir. 2010). Similarly, nothing in the Supreme Court’s recent Second Amendment jurisprudence lends support to Plaintiffs’ novel theory that a police department policy outlining expectations for an officer’s use of force can burden conduct protected by the Second Amendment.

Instead, the Supreme Court has been clear that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited” and is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 626. Plaintiffs selectively quote historical sources cited in Heller to suggest that so long as self-defense is a purpose for the individual claiming a Second Amendment right, the Second Amendment forbids “unreasonable” restrictions on the manner a weapon is used.


Here, the Policy represents an effort by an employer, the Seattle Police Department, to regulate the use not only of (employer-issued) weapons but of the force its employees are specially sanctioned to wield on behalf of the city government. This scenario has no relation to the Second Amendment guarantees for individuals recognized in Heller, McDonald, and Peruta.

The officers’ other complaints were similarly dismissed.

Nor did she agree with the officers’ insistence that the policy violated a “right of self-defense as embedded in the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unreasonable search and seizures. Pechman said the argument grossly misconstrued Fourth Amendment law.

As the Fourth Amendment argument went (which is “terribly”), so did the officers’ arguments claiming violations of due process and equal protection.

In a rather amusing and slightly ironic turn of events, the officers’ complaints about the court-appointed monitor (Merrick Bobb) were rebuffed by every bad cop’s best friend:

Because Defendant Bobb exercised discretion in resolving a dispute at the request of a district judge, he is entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity from suit and the charges against him must be dismissed.

Pechman further points out that not liking a monitor’s determinations isn’t the same thing as them being “unjust” or “one-sided.”

The suit has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning the 125 officers who filed a suit so baseless even the local police union wouldn’t offer its support will now have to return to work and follow the same rules as the rest of their fellow officers. I suppose it’s a good thing this case wasn’t dragged out any longer than the past five months, considering its legal warchest crowdfunding effort stalled out slightly past the $3,000 mark.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Police Officers' Suing The DOJ For Violating Their 'Right' To Deploy Force Without Restrictions Shot Down By Federal Judge”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Poor little piggies have such a hard job. Riding around in a free hotrod, getting to shoot brown people and free laptops is such a terrible awful thing. All they do is write speeding tickets. We could downsize the police force by 80% and the DEA by 100% and there would be no significant impact on the peace.

If piggy thinks his job is too hard he can fucking quit and dig ditches or flip burgers.

Groaker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While there was a tremendous furor in St. Louis, other people of white, pink, brown, black and yellow colored skin being killed by police. Often shot in the back while weaponless.

There is a severe mistake in thinking that this is simply a racial issue, but rather one of perceived power. The controlling factor is “thou shalt not embarrass or annoy your boss.” So try not to kill people with money, power or connections.

The intent of having a perceptual racial divide is to allow the establishment of a “right” to murder civilians that has in fact already spread through out the color spectrum. It is just that the PR job has made some people think they are safe from spontaneous and arbitrary execution.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

True. People still think of this issue in terms of a racial divide because in the “good old days,” the racial divide was very clear. If you were white, you had little to fear. Nowadays, however, whites are increasingly experiencing police behavior that blacks have been accustomed to since, well, the very beginning. It’s interesting that there was not widespread outrage about police behavior until it started affecting whites.

As you point out, the divide for police abuse isn’t race so much anymore as it is class. If you’re lower-upper or richer then you have little to fear. Everyone else needs to stay vigilant.

Anonymous Coward says:

The stupid it burns...

“the Second Amendment forbids “unreasonable” restrictions on the manner a weapon is used.”

The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed! Which means delaying a purchase for the purposes of a background check is by definition infringing which is against the 2nd.

The definitions are below. Dear America… you are stupid and ignorant and are marching your liberties right off a cliff. If you are okay with the destruction of any amendment (not going through legal 3/4 state amendment process) just because you do not like it then, you have no grounds to complain when another right you do like is infringed.

plural noun: arms

weapons and ammunition; armaments.
“they were subjugated by force of arms”

noun: infringement; plural noun: infringements

the action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement, etc.; violation.
“copyright infringement”
the action of limiting or undermining something.
“the infringement of the right to privacy”

Stewby says:

Re: The stupid it burns...

You’re making the same mistake as certain NSA analysts that were using common dictionary definitions of legal terms to interpret the law. Obviously “arms” means whatever the government wants it to mean, also there’s no evidence that the forefathers weren’t just poor grammaticists that really intended to enshrine a right to baring ones arms in anticipation of violent feminists proselytizing the requirement of Burhas for all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The stupid it burns...

You are wrong, the forefathers are lets see what is that term again?…


But you are right about one thing… I made the mistake of assuming that the government uses the same definitions normal people use.

They like to change the definitions to suit their needs… kinda like when they said black folks were not human to suit their needs to enslave them either.

I guess that was just a grammatical oversight as well huh?

Our Forefathers had exceptional grammatical skills… it is our grammatical skills that are lacking! Only idiots or corrupt people fail to understand any part of the constitution to the level that it is constantly twisted these days!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The stupid it burns...

Wrong, you loser. SCOTUS who is tasked with defining the Constitutional nature of US laws was clear when they interpenetrated the 2nd Amendment:

“The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.”


John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The stupid it burns...

You lost the argument as soon as you started the name-calling, but I’ll point out why you lost no matter what: I’m arguing that the wording is unclear. You’re responding with a supreme court ruling, which is a nonsequitor.

The supreme court was not ruling on whether or not the wording of the amendment was clear. It was ruling on what they think the amendment means based, in large part, on things outside of the amendment’s actual wording.

None Given says:

Re: Re: Re:4 The stupid it burns...

“Except that the second amendment is not at all clear in what it means. Grammatically speaking, its meaning is ambiguous.”
“I’m arguing that the wording is unclear.”

I see only one Grammatical meaning in the second amendment.

(adverbial clause, describing why law is to exist) , ( main clause, dictates what law is).

What other grammatical interpretation works?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The stupid it burns...

Right, but the 2nd ammendment protects the people not the state. The cops don’t have the freedom to use force against the people, it is a privilege. They also only have a privilege to employ weapons in the line of duty. When acting as servents of the state they have no such 2nd ammendment rights. Those rights are reserved for private citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The stupid it burns...

  1. I was not addressing that comment from the perspective of Law enforcement or Government. I was addressing the comment itself for its gross stupidity.

    2. You are correct that cops do not have freedom to use force, but it is not a privilege… it is a Power granted them. Never confuse what that means again please.

    3. Cops do have a right to carry and bear fire arms as a citizen of the Country irrespective of their Duties or Powers as an officer of the law.

    4. The Constitution is not null and void just because you or anyone else says it is just because they work for the government. They have a right to every other protection a Citizen has including observing their religion in the public square.

    It is insane just how much people THINK they know the Constitution and what the forefathers intended yet no one actually goes and reads about it. No wonder we are failing as an electorate… we are all blatantly ignorant and retarded.

None Given says:

Re: Re: Re: The stupid it burns...

“…what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” — George Mason

Public officials definitely can and should have their rights limited while they are exercising government powers. Freedom of speech is one of them. 5th Amendment is another good example.

Police should be able to defend themselves, but I see no reason to extend greater rights to them in this than to the average citizen.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: The stupid it burns...

Not that I want to get into a second amendment argument with you (the punctuation in the national archives is actually in question) but here is the actual text:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

So the constitution – which is by definition a document intended to change over time – specifies in one of the earliest amendments that because an armed militia is important to security, people should not be restricted from having and holding or carrying firearms.

You specifically call out delays to the purchase of a firearm and the amendment only talks about firearms that are already owned – note “keep” rather than “acquire”.

I personally own more than a couple of firearms. I believe people should have the ability to obtain firearms if they are properly trained, remain safe in their use, and store them in a safe manner. However, the premise of that amendment is absolutely questionable at this point (we do not use militia anymore) so I can absolutely understand why there should now be a reasonable debate over whether firearm ownership should be restricted or forbidden. I would certainly like to be able to continue to own guns, but I would also like to come up with a solution to keep them in the hands of people that are mentally stable, not criminal, and have proper training.

JMT says:

Re: The stupid it burns...

“The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed! Which means delaying a purchase for the purposes of a background check is by definition infringing which is against the 2nd.”

Most sane people believe that it is not at all unreasonable to first check that a prospective gun owner is not a convicted criminal or mentally unstable.

MacCruiskeen says:

Why should a right of self-defense be considered imaginary? Just because a right isn’t mentioned explicitly in the Constitution doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The constitution itself says that pretty plainly. That doesn’t, of course, justify excessive force for police. If anything, the part of the second amendment that should apply to the police is the part about ‘the well-regulated militia.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Stories like these just make me think that the police will start going after federal judges in order to scare them out of decisions likes these in the future.

We’re dealing with a corrupt, highly criminal organization here, that is above the law and spans the entire country. In that light i don’t think anything they might try is off the table. They see themselves as immune to oversight, rules, and justice, and in most cases they are correct. Given that, i don’t think it will be won’t be long before they drop all pretense completely.

David says:

Re: Re:

Sorry, but I don’t think that the U.S. police really counts as organized crime: it’s more like spontaneous crime.

The Department of Justice is the actual organized crime syndicate in the U.S. It constantly and systematically tries to move justice out of court and makes up its own interpretation of the Constitution.

While they actually bought weapons from taxpayer money and distributed them to drug cartels without accountability, committing perjury about it before congress, that probably was sort of an accidental black-collar experiment where they got carried away. Usually they are more subtle about trampling the Constitution into the ground.

The police, in contrast, do not follow a higher goal like that of making the U.S. the laughing stock of “civilized” “free” nations. They are just having unorganized fun.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...