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Volokh: Case will have ramifications beyond Indiana

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First Amendment scholar and UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh knows a thing or two about blogging and free speech, as namesake of the popular legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy.

In arguing the First Amendment implications of the case in which Daniel Brewington was convicted of intimidating a judge and other charges, Volokh said the statute under which Brewington was prosecuted wasn’t just unconstitutional as applied to him, but unconstitutional on its face.

After the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Brewington’s convictions, Volokh blogged about it on his site and built an unlikely coalition of a dozen amici who asked the court to rule part of Indiana’s intimidation statute unconstitutional.

They point to language in I.C. 35-45-2-1 that defines intimidation as a threat intended to “expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule.” The Court of Appeals held that under the statute, the crime “consists of threatening the victim with the intention of placing the victim in fear for a prior lawful act. The truthfulness of the threatened disclosure is not necessarily relevant to prosecution because the harm, placing a victim in fear, occurs whether the publicized conduct is true or false.”

Volokh and others argued that taken a step further, the opinion could be used to potentially prosecute people for political speech or even expressing opinions in letters to the editor or forums such as Angie’s List, for example.

“If the Court of Appeals decision is allowed to stand, it would be a precedent that could be cited in other states,” he said.

Volokh’s argument before the court was presented on behalf of himself and the following amicus joiners: American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Eagle Forum, Hoosier State Press Association, Indianapolis Star, Indiana Association of Scholars, Indiana Coalition for Open Government, James Madison Center for Free Speech, NUVO Newsweekly, former IUPUI School of Journalism Dean James W. Brown and IUPUI professors Anthony Fargo and Sheila S. Kennedy.•
 

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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