Earlier this week, as I pointed out here, the Ninth Circuit reversed a conviction against a man for making a number of statements about Barack Obama’s race, and how he’d like to see then-candidate Obama shot.
Two very good pieces, from different perspectives, are at The Volokh Conspiracy, and the San Diego City Beat. The Volokh post spends a lot of time on the Supreme Court’s decision in Watts, which, of course, is the case to read on the issue. The City Beat provides more context on how this kind of prosecution matters to politics. It was a lot like Judge Reinhardt’s opening in the opinion, only talking more about the Tea Party of today than the mean words used against Abraham Lincoln.
And, of course, a massive hat tip to Howard Bashman for these links.
What I haven’t seen, and I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen it, is a discussion of Bagdasarian in light of the tragic shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. The court’s holding likely means that the only remedies we have to cool our political rhetoric are outside of the criminal law — which strikes me as not necessarily bad — but I would have thought someone would complain loudly about that implication of the decision.
If you have questions about how federal criminal charges are different than state criminal charges, please visit this page on Maryland federal criminal charges or Washington DC federal criminal charges.