LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a free-speech case that began with a parking ticket at Michigan State University.
Jared Rapp, a law student at the school, was accused of yelling at a parking-enforcement employee and taking his picture after he found a ticket on his car in 2008.
“I walked up to his window and I said ‘Did you write this?’ and he said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I’m like “Did you write this ticket? Because, you lied, there’s still time left on the meter. Come look at it.’ He refused to look at it and I asked him for his name. He said ‘Why do you want it?’ and I said ‘Because I’m going to have to put a stop to this,'” said Rapp.
The employee reported feeling threatened and called campus police, who arrested Rapp based on a university ordinance.
“A portion of it says that it’s unlawful for any person to disrupt any person carrying out service for the university, and any person includes the university’s police department, it includes the parking department and it includes bus drivers, teachers, landscapers, everybody who works at the university, literally, everybody,” said Rapp.
Rapp was placed on probation for two years, ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and fined $873. He said the university ordinance is an illegal infringement on his free-speech rights.
“A vote in favor of this ordinance is a vote in favor of unbridled police power to say ‘Okay, we can make laws that we don’t really enforce but we use it whenever we don’t like you,'” said Rapp.
Rapp believes he was arrested only because he was pressing the employee for his name because he planned to fight the parking ticket.
A message seeking comment was left with the university.