Supreme Court denies review in Bennie v. Munn

January 17, 2017 | By WENCONG FA

This morning, we received disappointing news that the Supreme Court denied our cert petition in Bennie v. Munn.

PLF attorneys represent Bob Bennie, a financial analyst and Tea Party leader in Nebraska. Bennie was targeted for retaliation by state financial regulators because he expressed political viewpoints that they didn’t like.

The issue in the case is whether an appellate court should conduct independent review of a trial court’s disposition of Bennie’s First Amendment claim or simply rubber stamp the trial court opinion. The issue is important, and the court of appeals viewed it as “likely [] dispositive” to the outcome. Yet the Supreme Court denied review.

The Court’s announcement should be disappointing to everyone who values First Amendment freedom — the indispensable right of all Americans to speak their minds without fear of official reprisal. Freedom of speech has little meaning if government officials can get away with punishing people for exercising that right. That’s precisely what happened to Bob Bennie. Vindictive bureaucrats launched a vendetta campaign against him because of his political opinions.

It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court declined to step in and right the injustice that was done. But if we learn of other Americans victimized by similar injustices, PLF stands ready to provide help. When that day comes, we will again seek a nationwide ruling from the Supreme Court that protects First Amendment rights from bureaucratic retaliation.

Thanks goes to Gene Summerlin, Steve Grasz, Mark Hill, and Marnie Jensen of Husch Blackwell LLP, who represented Bennie in the courts below and contributed to our petition as local counsel. And to the law professors, state attorneys general, and freedom-oriented organizations who submitted friend-of-the-court briefs. It is encouraging to see that so many are willing to stand up for individual liberty and the First Amendment.