Fane Lozman already made it to the U.S. Supreme Court once in his fight with city hall – and he won.
Now he’s going back.
Lozman’s first claim to fame was spearheading a fight against handing a private developer the public marina in Riviera Beach as well as 2,200 homes via eminent domain for a billion dollar project. He won and that’s when city officials were on record as saying he needed to be “intimidated” to stop his continuing efforts.
Intimidate, the city did, seizing his floating home and ultimately destroying it in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 and in which the Supreme Court found in favor of Lozman.
In 2006, the city also had Lozman arrested during public comments at a commission meeting when he simply mentioned the topic of public corruption in Palm Beach County – and that is leading Lozman back to the highest court in the land.
The commission ordered a police officer to arrest Lozman – even though he’d violated no rules – and he was hauled to a holding cell at the police department and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Those charges were dropped and Lozman filed a federal lawsuit against the city alleging his First Amendment rights had been violated. He lost at trial and on appeal, even though there was substantial evidence the arrest was made in retaliation against Lozman for fighting city hall. The reason for the loss: The court ruled there was probable cause for the arrest and under federal law that protected the government from liability.
“Just the fact they you were arrested bars your first amendment retaliation arrest claim,” said Lozman. “The federal courts allow police allow elected officials to charge you with some trivial offense just to shut you up and that’s not what the First Amendment’s all about.”
Lozman appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and last week he got stunning news: the highest court in the land is taking the case.
“I screamed joyous outburst I guess you would say,” said Lozman. “I was happy. I’ve been fighting this for nine and a half years. Elected officials raised their right hand and swore to uphold the constitution and the First Amendment is part of what they swore to uphold. Because they don’t like to be criticized, because they don’t like their little projects to be challenged, does not give them the right to use police force … to try to chill free speech.”
The case is expected to be heard by the justices in February.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.