This is an interesting decision, allowing the first and fourth amendment claims of Port Militarization Resistance, an anti-war group, to go ahead.
The lawsuit arose when allegedly two civilian U.S. Army employees (Towery and Rudd) spied on the anti-war members and secretly disrupted protests. The anti-war group was protesting the use of sea ports in Washington State for shipments of military supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lawsuit alleges defendants befriended the anti-war group and “influenced and directed” tactics to disrupt protests without cause, and that defendants broke into a confidential attorney-client list serve.
The district court dismissed most of the claims, but allowed First and Fourth Amendment allegations against Towery and Rudd to go ahead, despite their motion for qualified immunity. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
The Ninth Court stated,
“It is clearly established that intentionally enabling arrests without probable cause in order to suppress speech violates the First Amendment,” the unsigned and unpublished opinion from Seattle states.
“Plaintiffs have pled a plausible violation of their clearly established First Amendment rights,” the ruling states. “Plaintiffs have alleged that defendants ‘deterred or chilled the plaintiff’s political speech’ and that such deterrence motivated defendants’ conduct.”