A man who sued Marty Walsh, Charlie Baker and William Evans because he couldn't find his way to the Parkman Bandstand for what turned out to be a tiny post-Charlottesville rantfest through the far larger throngs of protesters that surrounded the platform in 2017 had his First Amendment and conspiracy case tossed by a federal judge today.
The dismissal, coming nearly three months after another federal judge dismissed another suit by another guy who never actually showed up at the bandstand, leaves just one more suit, by a man who did show up that day - failed serial Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, although he's a bit busy these days suing state elections officials over their alleged world-girdling conspiracy to deprive him of his rightful election last year and to get Twitter to take away his account.
In his ruling, US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin basically said that Samson Racioppi, who was a student at New England Law when he brought the suit last year, had no case, that there was nothing wrong in public officials coordinating a security plan to deal with a potentially controversial event, that there was nothing unconstitutional about that plan and that the three officials said nothing malicious, or, in fact, anything at all, about Racioppi.
Racioppi charged they violated his First Amendment rights by keeping him from the bandstand. But that's not what they did, Sorokin wrote, adding they also did nothing to order underlings to deprive Racioppi of his First Amendment right to yell into the void from the Parkman Bandstand, where only one person - Ayyadurai - brought a loudspeaker, and it didn't work.
Althought Boston Police had established a tight security perimeter around the handful of alt-rightists and other Trump fans on the bandstand, they did have one opening for participants to use. Racioppi's sole interaction with anybody from BPD was when he asked a Boston cop how to get to the bandstand, but Racioppi stopped on his way to the opening to give some interviews and by the time he was done, police had closed off the entry point to swarm a bit closer to the bandstand, according to Sorokin's summary of his case.
Racioppi's monetary claims agains the three for coordinating a security plan for the controversial rally the week after a rightwinger used his car to murder a woman in Charlottesville, VA fail because the Eleventh Amendment bars monetary suits against public officials for doing something as part of their jobs, Sorokin wrote. Racioppi had sought a total of $260 million in damages.
And so, Sorokin concluded;
Racioppi has failed to allege facts plausibly showing either deliberate indifference or the causal link necessary to support claims against the three named defendants. The Amended Complaint does not sufficiently identify a specific policy resulting in the alleged deprivation; it makes only blanket reference to a “security plan” and a bald assertion that harm resulted from that undescribed plan. ...
The Amended Complaint also fails to show a causal link between anything the named defendants did and the harm Racioppi says he suffered. The allegations against the defendants are fairly summarized as follows: based on their status and authority as public officials as well as their public statements, the defendants must have coordinated in advance of the Boston rally, must have known the (unspecified) contents of the security plan developed for that event, and must have known and intended that the plan would harm the event and impair the rights of its speakers.In the very case Racioppi cites - Pereira-Castillo - the First Circuit found such allegations insufficient to ground a plausible claim of supervisory liability under [federal law]. Thus, Racioppi’s constitutional claims against Governor Baker, Walsh, and Evans fail.
Sorokin also rejected Racioppi's allegation that the three public officials engaged in a conspiracy to thwart his Constitutional rights. That three public officials had come to a general "meeting of the minds" on how to deal broadly with the supposed rally is not a conspiracy, he wrote.
And Racioppi failed to prove his assertion that
Walsh and Evans should or must have learned of Racioppi’s statements to the media disclaiming affiliation with hate groups, and that the question from a reporter about a Black Lives Matter speaker slated for the event should have caused Walsh to doubt whether the Boston rally participants were members of a hate group.
So the two officials were protected by "conditional immunity" as part of their jobs as public officials, Sorokin wrote, adding that even if they weren't public officials, the defamation claim would fail because, again, they never mentioned Racioppi by name.
Racioppi makes no factual allegations plausibly suggesting that by referring to the group, the speakers were making statements “of or concerning” him. Without this, Racioppi has failed to state a claim for defamation.