Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear the case of two wife-swapping deputies who were fired by their Louisiana sheriff’s department.
Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office (BPSO) Deputies Brandon Coker and Michael Golden decided that they loved each other’s wife instead of their own, and after consultation with their families, they swapped homes and wives, according to AFP.
Deputy Golden moved in with Deputy Coker’s wife, and Deputy Coker moved in with Deputy Golden’s wife. Neither couple divorced.
In October of 2014, BPSO Chief Deputy Sheriff Charles Owens discovered the wife-swap, and told both deputies that their actions violated the Sheriff’s Code of Conduct barring “illegal, immoral or indecent conduct.”
Sheriff Owens placed both Deputies Coker and Golden on administrative leave.
They were told that they could return to their own homes until their divorces were final, or they would be “considered to have terminated employment voluntarily,” according to court records.
Both deputies continued living with the other’s wife, and in the other’s home, and they filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department for unlawful termination.
They claimed that the Sheriff’s Code of Conduct violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
The Sheriff’s Code includes the following standards, according to FindLaw:
“Conduct yourselves at all times in such a manner as to reflect the high standards of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. [and] Do not engage in any illegal, immoral, or indecent conduct, nor engage in any legitimate act which, when performed in view of the public, would reflect unfavorabl[y] upon the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.”
Deputies Coker and Golden also violated a provision that required them to inform their direct supervisors within 24 hours of a change of address, a measure designed to ensure their availability at all times in case of an emergency.
The case first went to a district court, which ruled in favor of the deputies’ employer. The deputies appealed their case, and an appeals court also sided with the sheriff’s department.
“Sexual decisions between consenting adults take on a different color when the adults are law enforcement officers,” the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said in a May ruling.
The law “does not create ‘rights’ based on relationships that mock marriage,” according to the ruling.
The final decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 18 when they upheld the ruling by declining to hear the case.