NATIONAL NEWS

Court: No lawsuit immunity for Michigan official who had rifle during online meeting

May 31, 2023, 3:03 PM | Updated: 3:14 pm

DETROIT (AP) — A lawsuit can go forward against a Michigan official who flashed a rifle during a public meeting over video conference, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

Patricia MacIntosh is suing Ron Clous, alleging he tried to silence her right to free speech when he displayed the rifle during a 2021 meeting of Grand Traverse County commissioners.

Clous has no governmental immunity at this stage of the litigation, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 opinion.

“Virtually smirking and displaying a high-powered rifle at someone during a tension-filled public meeting is pregnant with dangerous meaning,” said judges Jane Stranch and Stephanie Dawkins Davis.

The incident occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic when the county board met over video conference. During the public comment period, MacIntosh urged commissioners to make a statement opposing anti-government militia groups, a few weeks after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

That’s when Clous, a commissioner who was participating from home, left the screen and returned with a rifle.

In response to the lawsuit, an attorney for Clous argued that displaying the rifle was his own “expressive conduct” protected by the Constitution. But the appeals court said it could be considered an “adverse action.”

Clous didn’t seek reelection in 2022 and is no longer a county commissioner.

In a dissent, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said no legal precedent fits to keep MacIntosh’s free speech retaliation lawsuit alive.

“Think of what happened,” he said. “A side view of Commissioner Clous’s lawfully possessed rifle. In that official’s own home. For a few seconds. During a virtual Board of Commissioners meeting. With everyone participating from the safety of their own homes.”

___

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwritez

National News

Associated Press

Ford recalls over 550,000 pickup trucks because transmissions can suddenly downshift to 1st gear

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 550,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the transmissions can unexpectedly downshift to first gear no matter how fast the trucks are going. The recall covers certain F-150 pickups from the 2014 model year. Ford’s F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford says in […]

7 minutes ago

Associated Press

Wildfire prompts evacuation orders for rural community in northern California

PALERMO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in rural northern California have ordered evacuations due to a fast-moving fire threatening the community of Palermo, which is near where the state’s deadliest wildfire struck six years ago. The fire covered about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in the initial hours Monday after the flames were first reported, […]

28 minutes ago

Associated Press

Former pro surfer known for riding huge Pipeline waves dies in shark attack while surfing off Oahu

A well-known Hawaii lifeguard who was killed in a shark attack while surfing off Oahu’s North Shore was a former professional surfer with acting credits to his name, including a role in one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Tamayo Perry, 49, was killed Sunday near Goat Island, Shayne Enright of the Honolulu Emergency […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

More rain possible in deluged Midwest as flooding kills 2, causes water to surge around dam

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) — More storms are possible in parts of the deluged Midwest, where flooding after days of heavy rains has killed at least two people, sent a river surging around a dam and forced evacuations and rescues. Severe storms were forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening with large hail, damaging winds […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges new Louisiana law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom, a measure they contend is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of Louisiana public school children with various religious backgrounds, who are represented by […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — News that the U.S. Justice Department has reached a plea deal that will lead to freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings a stunning culmination to a long-running saga of international intrigue that spanned multiple continents. Its central character is a quixotic internet publisher with a profound disdain for government secrets. A […]

6 hours ago

Court: No lawsuit immunity for Michigan official who had rifle during online meeting