Throwing Logic and the Law Under The Bus: Texas Bus Driver Given $21,000 After Being Fired for Refusing to Drive Women to Planned Parenthood

A bus driver in Texas received an extraordinary $21,000 settlement for conduct that justifiably led to his termination. Edwin Graning received the settlement from the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) in Texas after he was fired for refusing to drive two women to a Planned Parenthood clinic last year. This seems a case of putting the CARTS before the horse in reaching a settlement before the other party has made a viable claim.


He then brought a lawsuit claiming that CARTS discriminated against him based on his religion because he was “concerned that he might be transporting a client to undergo an abortion.” The complaint said that Graning is “an ordained Christian minister who is opposed to abortion.” Graning was represented by the American Center for Law & Justice, founded by Pat Robertson.

The claim filed in Austin was, in my view, meritless as a matter of religious discrimination. CARTS members insisted that the costs of the litigation would have been greater than the settlement.

Burnet County Commissioner Ronny Hibler explained his support for the settlement: There’s a lot of things as a county commissioner that I don’t like, but I do it because it’s my job.” I would not say that giving money for frivolous claims is part of your job.

I am all in favor of settlements of meritorious claims that are costing more in litigation than necessary to secure a settlement. However, this is not a meritorious claim. Indeed, the claim would undermine a host of constitutional rights and public policies if bus drivers could refuse to drive citizens to places like Planned Parenthood. If there was one case that was worth fighting on principle, it was this one. Moreover, I do not believe this case would have been viable for very long. Indeed, this seems like a pretty desperate settlement by a man without a cognizable claim.

Except for the involvement of a religious rights legal groups, it would have the markings of a strike suit. In this case, the group probably felt that the benefit of receiving any money on such a claim would be the most significant victory. They are right. While CARPS is saying that it is now telling drivers that they must take citizens to their destinations without discrimination, that is hardly a policy that needed clarification. Instead, the settlement will be cited as a victory for those who want to claim policies of equal treatment are actually forms of religious discrimination.

The board members are now blaming their lawyers for recommending the settlement. If they did recommend the settlement, they were clearly giving bad legal advice. However, it is their duty to convey all such settlements. It is the responsibility of the board to refuse to pay a driver for discriminating against these women based on his assumptions over their medical needs or moral choices.

The question is now not whether Gibson will get money for his abusive treatment of passengers but whether citizens should be forced to continue to pay the salaries of CARPS board members.

Source: Current

Jonathan Turley

21 thoughts on “Throwing Logic and the Law Under The Bus: Texas Bus Driver Given $21,000 After Being Fired for Refusing to Drive Women to Planned Parenthood”

  1. Blouise, TY again……I’ll take a look tonight, as my lunch break has now come to an end 🙁

  2. @ Blouise…..TY 🙂

    Hoping someone can clarify…..in the US are ” Planned Parenthood ” clinics designated for abortions or just counselling about planned parenthood topics in general? Just wondering as here ( in the GW North ) planed parenthood agencies are gvn’t funded counselling type agencies. Counselors provide information about sexual health in general. If a woman chooses to….or needs to terminate a pregnancy she first see’s her regular GP and is then quickly referred to a ” Woman’s Clinic ” at a hospital. The
    ” Women’s Clinics ” offers all womans’ health services to their patients, not only theraputic abortion.
    Locally, the PL activists park themselves( and their mangled fetus signs ) in front of the parking lot at the hospital that houses the women’s clinic. That way it is not only women considering TA who are barraged with their literature, but anyone entering or exiting the hospital by eay of it’s only parking lot ( the lot is actually on University property rather than hospital property as the protestors are restricted from hospital property ).

  3. While it is easy to say that frivolous claims should not be paid. However, without knowing the details it is impossible to say how much of a gamble the employer was avoiding by agreeing to pay a relatively small settlement. In these cases, an error in the procedure used to terminate can constitute a due process violation, even if the ultimate employment decision would have been the same. You hardly ever see the relevant facts in news accounts (and often they are not disclosed at all), but they often are the reason for settling. If there was a problem with procedure, then the employee would be entitled to attorneys fees even if actual damages were very low, or even non-existent. Those fees reach the hundreds of thousands very quickly.

  4. smallguvguy 1, April 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

    According to the county, they settled because 21,000 is a lot less than the legal fight. I think that this will set a much more expensive precedent here in the Austin area.
    —————–
    wow….where has Austin been?

  5. ~18 current anti-abortion bills in the Florida House and Senate~

  6. ‘The claim filed in Austin was, in my view, meritless as a matter of religious discrimination. CARTS members insisted that the costs of the litigation would have been greater than the settlement.’

    the root of economic terrorists…pay me to go away …OR ELSE!!!

    ‘Indeed, the claim would undermine a host of constitutional rights and public policies if bus drivers could refuse to drive citizens to places like Planned Parenthood.’

    why is this different from hospitals and doctors refusing abortions? maybe if the hospitals were still ‘public’ we wouldn’t be having this fight…again. Is this why Single payer healthcare was such a threat?

  7. I wonder how folks in that area would feel if an atheist driver refused to drop people off at a church?

  8. I have to wonder if said bus driver would have refused to drive pro-life activists to the same Planned Parenthood clinic for fear that they may be planning to bomb the building?

  9. You do know the next step: Someone will be fired, and get a settlement, for refusing to drive someone to a multiplex because one of the screens was showing an R-rated movie.

  10. “The world is upside down and the inmates are running the prison.” -rafflaw

    Right again. (Just another beautiful day in America…)

  11. According to the county, they settled because 21,000 is a lot less than the legal fight. I think that this will set a much more expensive precedent here in the Austin area.

  12. AY,
    With all due respect, this is just one more example of why Texas should be allowed to secede from the Union. Prof. Turley, as usual, hit the nail on the head. This was not and would never be a legitimate cause of action for religious discrimination, except in Texas! Holy Crap. The world is upside down and the inmates are running the prison.

  13. If this was anywhere in Texas but Austin, I’d assume that the guy’s boss was rational (hence, firing him), but that the city council was sending a message of support to the pro-life religious community with the settlement.

  14. Wait rcampbell….

    You would agree….George Bush is an Idiot… George Bush is an Idiot from Texas….. Is this not logic….or is that a fallacy….as George Bush is not really from Texas and he is still an idiot….. That is logic right?

    You gotta consider Burnet County….small rural….outside of Austin…

  15. “Graning was represented by the American Center for Law & Justice, founded by Pat Robertson.”

    Countdown to Pat making some comment about the need for tort reform to curb lawsuit abuse…….

Comments are closed.