Gardner v. Mutz

Court: 11th Circuit
Case Number: 19-10461
Decision Date: June 22, 2020
Case Type: Due Process
This lawsuit was filed by a group of individuals and organizations who objected to the City of Lakeland’s decision to relocate a Confederate monument from one city park to another. Plaintiffs contended that the relocation violated their rights under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit disagreed holding that  the Plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue either their First Amendment claim or their due process claim. The court found that to have standing to sue, “[a] plaintiff must demonstrate among other things that he or she has suffered an invasion of a legally protected interest that is both … ‘concrete and particularized.’” However, the damages asserted by the plaintiffs—among them Southern War Cry, Save Southern Heritage, Veterans Monuments of America, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy and a taxpayer who claimed “Confederate dead in his family lineage”—don’t qualify. The Plaintiffs asserted "that the monument’s relocation infringes their interests in ‘preserve[ing] the history of the south,’ ‘expressing their free speech from a Southern perspective,’ ‘vindicat[ing] the cause’ for which the Confederate Veteran fought,” and ‘protect[ing] and preserv[ing] memorials to American veterans,’” The court held that "those injuries … are pretty amorphous.” “Aside from their ‘special interest’ in the subject[s] of Confederate history, veterans memorials, and the so-called ‘Southern perspective,’ the court determined that the Plaintiffs had not shown that they had suffered a particularized Article III injury of the sort that distinguishes them from other interested observers and thus qualifies them, specifically, to invoke federal-court jurisdiction."