Rinne files federal lawsuit against Camden County following banning from county property

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
Camden County Courthouse.

Camden County resident Nathan Rinne has officially filed a federal lawsuit against Camden County, following the decision to ban him from county property on March 2.

The lawsuit states that the banning from county property was made on a false premise that Rinne displayed “disruptive conduct and harassment conduct” to county elected officials and employees. It goes on to say that the county has no legitimate basis to restrict Rinne’s free speech in public spaces and forums, even more so without due process. 

Three parties are listed within the lawsuit, which includes Rinne, Camden County and the members of the county commission. The lawsuit cites the county depriving Rinne of his first and fourteenth amendment rights. 

Multiple county incidents are cited in the lawsuit, including both the gravel gate incident and the threats of violence made against commissioner Gohagan by county maintenance workers. The lawsuit states that county residents had been vocal with their opinions on these incidents. It confirms that Rinne shared his opinion of the county openly on social media, which the lawsuit says the county disapproved of, leading to his banning. 

It goes on to state that the true intention of the banning was not due to the previously mentioned “disruptive conduct and harassment conduct” by Rinne, but rather to censor him and block his viewpoint from public meetings. It is also stated that Rinne was not given a chance to defend himself against these accusations. 

As the only member of the commission to sign the letter sent to Rinne announcing his ban, an amended version of the lawsuit holds Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty personally liable in the case. 

The lawsuit continues, stating once more that Rinne’s first and fourteenth amendment rights were violated by not allowing him access to public county spaces, including public forums, the circuit court, justice center and more. It states that the county’s claims are vague and overbroad, discriminating against free speech and restraining constitutionally protected speech.

More specifically, it states that the county’s practices and enforcement related to the ban lack narrow tailoring and fail to achieve any legitimate government purpose or alternative venues of expression. 

As for an outcome, the lawsuit hopes to achieve the following: 

-declare a violation of constitutional rights, including free speech and due process

-declare county policies and practices involved with the banning as unconstitutional

-to grant a permanent injunction to county workers involved with applying the ban

-to award Rinne with costs and expenses of the lawsuits, including attorney fees and other further relief as deemed by the court

Rinne provided the following comment, addressing his view and reason for the lawsuit.

“It is my belief that when the commission voted to ban people from all county property, they are denying due process and a fair hearing. Beyond that, when they do so to people based solely on the fact that they are holding their feet to the fire and asking questions they don’t like, they are in violation of the US constitution particularly the 1st and 14th amendment. I filed this lawsuit not only to correct the actions taken against me by the commission, but also to ensure it does not happen to anyone else ever again,” Rinne said.