Diverse Group of Organizations, Law Professors Call on Supreme Court to Hear Case of Grandmother Arrested for Criticizing Local Government Officials

Dan King:

At the end of April, IJ filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s ruling providing qualified immunity to a mayor and a police chief who threw a 72-year-old grandmother in jail, after she criticized a city manager, their ally.  

Since then, five groups consisting of public interest organizations, renowned advocates, and acclaimed scholars filed their own briefs asking the Supreme Court to grant review and overturn this grievously wrong decision.   

“The outpouring of support has been absolutely remarkable,” said IJ Attorney Anya Bidwell. “This has been such a morale boost for Sylvia Gonzalez, our client, who’s been terribly hurt by this whole experience. In addition, it has shown that we’re absolutely right in our interpretation of the law.” 

Sylvia was arrested in 2018 after she petitioned her government to remove the city manager. As it turns out, the city manager had powerful friends determined to ensure that Sylvia and others opposing the powers that be knew their place. To punish Sylvia for speaking out, the mayor and the police chief engineered an arrest of the 72-year-old grandmother. Her offense? She supposedly tried to steal the petition to remove the city manager that she herself championed.