The U.S. District Court of South Dakota’s Western District just threw out a lawsuit that white-supremacist crank Rudy Stanko filed against Big D Oil Company earlier this year. Stanko complained that Big D Oil, which operates gas stations in Rapid City, Custer, Deadwood, Sturgis, and Belle Fourche, refused in October 2016 to distribute Stanko’s racist screed The Stampede on their property. (This blog reported last March that some less-circumspect West River gas stations allowed Stanko’s angry claptrap on their premises; Stanko stopped publishing The Stampede shortly thereafter.) Stanko argued that by “allowing other newspapers to be freely distributed or sold” on their property but not his papers, Big D Oil, its CEO, and its district manager were violating his First Amendment rights and other statutory civil rights.
Judge Jeffrey L. Viken doesn’t have time for this horsehockey. In a sixteen-page order, Judge Viken tells Stanko that Big D Oil…
- is not the state or an entity “act[ing] under the color of state law” and thus can’t be sued for deprivation of rights under civil rights law 42 USC § 1983;
- wasn’t conspiring with anyone against Stanko thus can’t be sued for conspiracy to interfere with civil rights under 42 USC § 1985;
- wasn’t discriminating against any protected class… and hey! Stanko didn’t even demonstrate that he is part of a protected class. (Sorry, Rudy: saying that you are a “blue-eyed White Plaintiff… exercising his 1st Amendment politically incorrect Southern religious ideologies” does not make you a protected class.)
Judge Viken didn’t even get to the main point that should be obvious to all of us regular citizens: Big D Oil’s shops are private property, and they can display or not display whatever papers, posters, and products they want. The main points above were all Judge Viken needed to boot Stanko’s complaint.
(As bonus boneheadery, Stanko also failed to serve a copy of his complaint to CEO Don Policky, whom Stanko named as a defendant. You can’t take someone to court until you put the papers in his or her hands.)
Alas, Judge Viken doesn’t have Stanko completely out of his hair. In April, Stanko sued the South Dakota Highway Patrol and some officers for a whole host of alleged abuses. Last year Stanko clogged up the U.S. District Court in Nebraska with a quickly dismissed suit attacking the Chadron American Legion for banning a fellow racist writer from the Legion Hall for calling veterans stupid, unprincipled, “mind-controlled dupes,” and rapists.
Stanko isn’t any more successful as a defendant than as a plaintiff. Stanko has been convicted of (and in some cases, served time for) theft, illegal possession of firearms, Social Security fraud, and, way back in the 1980s, selling tainted meat to the federal school lunch program. (Hey, Donald Trump! Looking for your next pardon?)
Stanko’s bad decisions and the resulting consequences seem to have led him down a pathetic path of white grievance and scapegoating. All we can do is reject his hateful ramblings, as Big D Oil did last year, and hope wise judges like Jeffrey Viken will dismiss Stanko’s conscienceless lawsuits as smartly and swiftly as possible to protect those who reject Stanko from lingering court costs.