According to the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — A police officer can't pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday.
In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”
John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz had sued two police officers who arrested Swartz in May 2006 after he flipped off an officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y. Swartz was later charged with a violation of New York's disorderly conduct statute, but the charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds.
Richard Insogna, the officer who stopped Swartz and his wife when they arrived at their destination, claimed he pulled the couple over because he believed Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.” The appeals court didn't buy that explanation, ruling that the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”
With the amount of shitheads roaming the streets of our country, I can only see this ruling causing problems. Not that I'm not all for free speech, with your hands or mouth, but, yeah, now that people know it's fair game to just flip a cop the bird for shits and gigs, this will be abused for sure.
Put it this way: If I were into fucking with Johnny Law, I'd grab a buddy with a video camera, station him in the distance, and flip off every cop I saw. One is bound to snap, cross the line –potentially tasing me or attempting nightstick sodomy — and hello lawsuit! Now, of course I'm not suggesting anyone actually try that, but I'd understand if you did.