Appeals Court Opening Brief Filed in ‘Right To Travel’ Lawsuit

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On September 4, 2007, my Federal Appeal’s Court Opening Brief was hand delivered to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. This appeal, from final rulings made in District Court Case No. CV-04-264-JMR in the District of Arizona, marks the forty-fifth month of litigation regarding a civil rights lawsuit filed in December 2003 against four tribal police officers from the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Those unfamiliar with the incident and associated legal action leading up to this appeal should go to Checkpoint USA for a comprehensive overview.

Without going into detail here, the main points covered in the Brief (from the Table of Contents) include the following:

  • Police roadblocks that check for driver’s licenses and warrants impermissibly burden citizens’ Constitutional Right to Travel and Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures
  • The Government’s requiring motorists to provide ID violates the First Amendment by restricting citizen’s Right to Travel
  • The District court erred as a matter of law by not relying on the Appellant’s statements of facts as true, by resolving disputed facts in favor of the police defendants, and by ignoring disputed facts that were beneficial to the Appellant
  • The District Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the Constitutional claims because the officers were acting under color of State and Federal law

Supporting points include:

  1. The Right to Travel is fundamental
  2. Mr. Bressi’s Right to Travel was violated
  3. Strict scrutiny applies to violations of the Right to Travel
  4. Law related to sobriety checkpoints is clearly established
  5. The facts support Mr. Bressi’s claim that the roadblock was conducted for general law enforcement purposes
  6. The police officers are not entitled to qualified immunity because they knew or should have known that their actions caused the violation of Mr. Bressi’s rights
  7. The police officers are not entitled to qualified immunity against Mr. Bressi’s claims for injunctive relief

The remainder of the Brief discusses each of these points in greater detail and is well worth the read.

Many thanks to all those who have assisted with this case to date with special thanks to attorney’s David Euchner and Jim Harrison of the Identity Project.

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