Court: Cops snubbed Constitution over radio, but are protected by court


A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled the Kansas police defendants in a constitutional-violations case are protected because the plaintiff didn’t cite a court case that agreed with the Constitution.

The ruling from judges Tim Tymkovich, Carlos Lucero and Nancy Moritz provided no relief for Mary Ann Sause, who claimed officers in Louisberg, Kansas, came to her door, demanded entry, intimidated her, told her to stop praying and made fun of her.

The officers later claimed they were at her home on a complaint of noise.

The woman claimed the officers said the Constitution is “just a piece of paper” that “doesn’t work here” and they told her to prepare to go to jail.

The complaint states: “Terrified, Ms. Sause asked one of the officers if she could pray. After being told she could, she knelt in silent prayer, only to have another officer enter the room and order her to stop praying. Only at the end of the encounter did they tell her that they were there because of a minor noise complaint that her radio was too loud.”

“Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality” chronicles how America has arrived at the point of being a de facto police state and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the Constitution. Order today!

In the court’s opinion, the judges noted Sause asserts that her “complaint states a plausible claim.”

“We don’t necessarily disagree. Indeed, for purposes of resolving this appeal, we assume that the defendants violated Sause’s First Amendment rights. But even with the benefit of that assumption, the defendants are nevertheless entitled to qualified immunity.”


Because the woman failed “to identify a case that ‘place[s] the … constitutional question beyond debate.”

“Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s order to the extent that it dismisses with prejudice Sause’s claims for money damages. To the extent that Sause’s complaint instead seeks injunctive relief, we likewise conclude that the district court properly dismissed her claims.”

The officers, in December, insisted they did not “burden” Sause’s constitutional rights.

First Liberty Institute argues the right “to pray in one’s own home without retaliation or government harassment is a fundamental aspect of religious freedom.”

The judges found: “We assume that the defendants violated Sause’s rights under the First Amendment when, according to Sause, they repeatedly mocked her, ordered her to stop praying so they could harass her, threatened her with arrest and public humiliation, insisted that she show them the scars from her double mastectomy, and then ‘appeared … disgusted’ when she complied – all over a mere noise complaint.”

The court’s opinion, however, claimed it was not “obvious” that the officers’ conduct was in violation of the Constitution.

“Although the decision to uphold the lower court’s dismissal is disappointing, the harsh criticism of the officers’ conduct as alleged in this case supports our First Amendment claim,” Jeremy Dys, deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute said in a statement.

“No one should face the prospect of being arrested for praying in their own home.”

It happened Nov. 22, 2013, when the officers demanded entry to her home.

“Sause is a rape survivor, so she is careful to make sure that she can identify visitors before she opens the door. According to Sause, she did not open the door to the police officers because they did not identify themselves and she was not able to see them due to her broken peephole,” the legal team explained.

But the officers returned and demanded entry.

What followed was about an hour of harassment, the complaint stated.

“No American should be told that they cannot pray in their own home,” said Stephanie Taub, counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The right to pray in the privacy of one’s own home is clearly protected by the First Amendment.”

First Liberty said it would continue to defend Sause’s First Amendment rights on appeal.

The case is against Louisburg, its police department, Chief Timothy Bauer, and officers Jason Lindsey and Brent Ball and others. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

“Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality” chronicles how America has arrived at the point of being a de facto police state and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the Constitution. Order today!

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