Monday, May 15, 2017

1796 Gorsuch and the Burp Monster

Photo: Moote Pointe NY Police Dept.

Dramatis Personae:
F.M. -- an otherwise unidentified 13 year old 7th grader from New Mexico.
The Teacher -- a gym teacher in FM’s school.
Arthur Acosta -- a sworn local police officer assigned to the school.
Neil Gorsuch -- an appeals judge when this story takes place and now an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court which might hear the case.

The story begins in 2011 when FM disrupts his gym class by making fake burping sounds and refuses to stop.  The gym teacher calls the school office which dispatches officer Acosta to the gym.

According to press reports at the time, Acosta escorted FM to the school office, cuffed him and arrested him on charges he violated the state law that prohibits “disrupting the educational process.”

FM was convicted and the parents sued the cop.  The case went to an appeals court which upheld the arrest by a vote of 2-1. Gorsuch sat on that court, disagreed with the decision and wrote the dissent.

He said the decision ignored the intent of the law by failing to distinguish between class clowns and serious disrupters.  So if FM had, say, staged a bomb scare or set off a firecracker, that would have violated the law. But in Gorsuch’s view sound effects alone did not.

Lawyers for the mother, Annette Montaro, are asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

If it does, Gorsuch probably will recuse himself because that’s what Associate Justices who’ve heard a case previously tend to do.

We’d be back to that 4-4 liberal/conservative breakdown that hobbled the court for all those months.  So are burping sound effects pro liberal or are they pro conservative?

The Supremes have regularly declined to hear cases of school discipline problems and likely it won’t agree to hear this one.  Expect that yes/no decision soon. Maybe today.

Speaking on behalf of class clowns everywhere, this space says Free F.M.  Sure his record will be sealed if the conviction stands.  But still.  C’mon, people.  

The one time class clown who is telling you this story knows what it’s like to be sent to the office.  There were endless meetings with the assistant principal of ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ High School.

F.M. was a kid in 2011. Now, he’s an adult.  He’s probably sorry he disrupted the class. He probably didn’t do it again.  A couple of sessions of detention would have stopped the whole thing.

Are we so litigious that we cuff a kid for burping in a class that almost no one likes in the first place?  In the real world, the other kids in class would have surrounded FM after school, and dragged him off to the soda shop down the street, put him in a booth or on a stool and bought him the biggest ice cream sundae he’d ever seen.   And then they’d demand that he teach them how to make those fake belches.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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