US District Court Says - No Singing in Post Office

We’ve all been in line at the Post Office, and we’ve all thought of countless ways to pass the interminable time. And while singing in public may lighten your mood, it is not a protected constitutional right.

So says an appeals court in dismissing a lawsuit filed by a U.S. Postal Service customer who was asked to leave after he refused to stop singing.

Erik Watkins claimed in his lawsuit that a postal employee denied his request to purchase a mailbox after he refused to stop singing what he described as an anti-gay song by reggae artist Buju Banton in February 2014, according to Monday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Eric Watkins v. United States Postal Employee.

Mr. Watkins filed suit, claiming he is entitled to $50,000 in damages from the postal employee for a willful violation of his First Amendment rights and the resulting “psychological injury” of “fear, anxiety and embarrassment,” according to the appeals court ruling.

The U.S. District Court in Miami granted the postal employee’s motion to dismiss the case, and a three-judge panel unanimously upheld the ruling. “Refusing service to a disruptive customer does not violate any clearly established and obvious federal law,” according the ruling. “There is no support for the assertion that Watkins had a First Amendment right to sing any sort of song in the post office lobby while standing in the service line.”

“The First Amendment’s guarantees have never meant that ‘people who want to propagandize protests or views have a constitutional right to do so whenever and however and wherever they please,'” said the ruling in quoting an earlier case.

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Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.