Middle Finger Is Protected Speech

Though already strongly suggested by Cohen v. California and Houston v. Hill, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has now specifically recognized that a Michigan woman who flipped off a cop after receiving a traffic ticket was exercising her protected free speech pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Sixth Circuit notably recognized that “Any reasonable officer would know that a citizen who raises her middle finger engages in speech protected by the First Amendment. Sandul v. Larion, 119 F.3d 1250, 1255 (6th Cir. 1997) (gesturing with the middle finger is protected speech); see Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 19, 26 (1971).”

Read the full Cruise-Gulyas v. Minard opinion (2019) from the Sixth Circuit’s website or from Google Scholar.

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