The Eighth Amendment clearly states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Bridgett Nickerson Boyd found a new meaning to that prohibition after Deputy Sheriff Mark Goad pulled her over on a Texas highway. After she had to go to the hospital with a racing heart, she was handcuffed and, she alleges, required to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. By any measure, that would shock the conscience as cruel and unusual punishment.
Boyd’s car broke down on her way to work and she said she pulled over on the side of the road only to have Deputy Sheriff Mark Goad write her a ticket for driving on the shoulder. He proceeded to carry out an arrest, but she was complaining of a racing heart. He followed her to the hospital and took her into custody after she was treated by doctors. She claims in the lawsuit that she was forced to listen to race-based ravings from Limbaugh on the radio as she drove to jail. Boyd is African-American and says that Limbaugh made “derogatory comments about black people.” all the way to the jail.
She is now suing Goad and Harris County alleging defamation, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The last claim would likely appeal to anyone who has heard Limbaugh.
Notably, all of the charges against Boyd were quickly dismissed by a magistrate.
The Supreme Court description of cruel and unusual punishment seemed to have Rush Limbaugh’s show in mind. In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan described four characteristics of such punishment: (1) degrading to human dignity, (2) punishment inflicted in a wholly arbitrary fashion,” (3) punishment that is “clearly and totally rejected throughout society,” and (4) punishment that is “patently unnecessary.” Hmmm, “degrading to human dignity,” “arbitrary,” rejected by society, and “patently unnecessary.” Yup, sounds like Limbaugh.
Given the choice between Rush and the rack, most people would choose the rack . . . it causes less long-term damage. Beside Rush’s programs are designed to produce greater rigidity in its victims. At least you become more flexible after a spin on the rack.