Explorer Scout Has No Property Right

Matthew Zwilling was a member of the Madison, Connecticut Police Explorer Post. When the City terminated him, Zwilling sued, claiming his termination violated his due process rights.

A federal court rejected the lawsuit, finding that Zwilling had no property right to his position in the Explorer Post. The Court noted that “property interests are not created by the Constitution. Rather they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law rules that support claim of entitlement to those benefits.

“Zwilling has not sufficiently described the property right of which the City allegedly deprived him, nor has he sufficiently stated how or why he has a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. The Court is well aware that the Police Explorer program is a volunteer program that provides training and education for young adults who are interested in a career in law enforcement. There is no indication that Police Explorers receive any remuneration normally associated with employment. That is to say, membership in the Police Explorer program is purely voluntary, providing no salary or other form of payment. A number of courts have found that membership in such voluntary organizations either does not rise to the level of a property interest, or is a de minimis property interest that is afforded no due process protection.”

Zwilling v. O’Connor, 2009 WL 2951126 (D. Conn. 2009).

This article appears in the December 2009 issue