Supreme Court Rules For Secret Service In Free Speech Case Involving Dick Cheney
The Supreme Court says two Secret Service agents are immune from a lawsuit initiated after Steven Coward says he was accosted when trying to talk to then-Vice President Cheney.
The high court held the agents were entitled to “qualified immunity” because it was not “clearly established” that they were violating Steven Howards’ free speech rights when they took him into custody.
“This Court has never recognized a First Amendment right to be free from a retaliatory arrest that is supported by probable cause; nor was such a right otherwise clearly established at the time of Howards’ arrest,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court’s opinion.
Secret Service agents Gus Reichle and Dan Doyle arrested Howards after he confronted Cheney at a 2006 appearance at a Colorado shopping mall.
Agents began monitoring Howards after Doyle observed him talking on his cellphone saying, “I’m going to ask [the Vice President] how many kids he’s killed today.”
Howards then entered a line to meet Cheney, where he told him that his “policies in Iraq are disgusting.” Cheney simply thanked Howards, but Howards touched the Vice President on the shoulder as he moved to meet more people in the crowd.
After Howards walked away, he was stopped by Reichele. Howards denied touching Cheney, which prompted his arrest.