We live in exciting times for civil rights litigation. Across the country, ordinary people from every walk of life are going to court to vindicate their rights and liberties. Civil lawsuits have ushered in marriage equality and combated trans discrimination, paving the way for minorities to achieve equal justice under law. Now a brave woman named Sylvia Ann Driskell is taking a bold step to fight in court for American freedom: She’s suing every gay person on the planet for violating civil rights law.
Technically, Driskell v. Homosexuals is a bit more complex than that. Driskell isn’t suing “the Homosexuals” on her own behalf; rather, she is “an Ambassador for Plaintiffs God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ” (sic). According to Driskell, God and Jesus want the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska to hold a trial to determine “Is Homosexuality a sin, or not a sin” (sic). Driskell, who is 60, cites several Bible verses—as well as Webster’s Dictionary—to prove homosexuality is, indeed, a sin. And she demands that gay people appear in federal court to prove “that its not a sin to be homosexual” (sic). The stakes, she says, are as high as they can be: “The way to destroy any Nation, or State is to destroy its morals, Look what happen to Sodom and Gomorrah” (sic).
Although Driskell’s handwritten complaint does not actually state a cause of action, she filed it as a 1983 civil rights suit. That means she believes gay people are violating the constitutional “rights, privileges, or immunities” of God and Jesus. (Driskell also faults “judges passing laws … so sinners can break religious and moral laws,” but she doesn’t want to drag them into court.) It is not quite clear what kind of remedy Driskell is seeking, although presumably she would start by overturning Lawrence v. Texas. One must assume that she hopes to finish by putting all gays to death, as the Bible commands.
Although we are truly living in an age of ambitious impact litigation, I fear Driskell’s lack of legal acumen may have doomed her lawsuit from the start. Were Driskell an experienced attorney, she would have known to file in state court, where these kinds of actions usually fare much better. She would have avoided citing the Bible and instead cited Justice Antonin Scalia’s paraphrasing of the Bible. And finally, she would have retained the counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which specializes in winning these kinds of suits. I can only hope Driskell learns from her mistakes, withdraws her suit, and re-files in a court more amenable to her interests. I hear Texas judges are especially accommodating to plaintiffs like Driskell these days.