The bald eagle isn’t the only bird protected by the federal government.

A federal appeals court unanimously decided a suburban Detroit’s woman’s civil rights were violated by a Taylor, Mich., police officer who ticketed her after she gave him the finger, according to the Associated Press.

The court ruled Officer Matthew Minard “should have known better” than to ticket motorist Debra Cruise-Gulyas after she stuck her middle finger in the air to protest another ticket he’d just given her.

The decision means Cruise-Gulyas can move forward with her lawsuit against the officer. She argues her First Amendment right to free speech and Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure were both violated, according to the Detroit News.

According to Cruise-Gulyas’ complaint, Officer Minard cited her for a minor non-moving violation. After receiving that ticket, she pulled away in her car and shot the officer the bird. Minard then pulled Cruise-Gulyas over and ticketed her for a speeding offense.

The plaintiff contends her civil rights were violated and Michigan’s Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

“Fits of rudeness or lack of gratitude may violate the Golden Rule,” the court said in its 3-0 decision. “But that doesn’t make them illegal or for that matter punishable or for that matter grounds for a seizure.”


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