America First Legal (AFL) in collaboration with Boyden Gray PLLC, has submitted a legal brief to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, staunchly defending the free speech rights of Douglass Mackey.
Douglass Mackey, a once well-known creator of memes on Twitter, was sentenced to seven months in prison.
The conviction marked a dramatic escalation in how free speech is being handled in the United States. Rendered in the New York criminal court, Mackey was declared guilty of perpetrating a “conspiracy against rights.”
Mackey, who operated under the alias Ricky Vaughn, had made and shared memes critical of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential race. His memes humorously suggested that Clinton supporters cast their ballots through text messages – a patently invalid method of voting.
The filing challenges the actions of the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ), which has been accused of selectively prosecuting Mackey under the Ku Klux Klan Act for his internet postings of satirical memes.
We obtained a copy of the filing for you here.
This case has ignited concerns over free speech, especially in the context of political discourse and satire. AFL’s brief emphasizes that misleading or inaccurate speech about elections and political rivals, particularly satirical in nature, has been a staple in democratic societies. They argue that the government’s interpretation of Section 241 of the Ku Klux Klan Act in this case overreaches its historical and legal boundaries. AFL’s brief points out several issues with the government’s stance:
- The government’s broad interpretation of Section 241 surpasses its accepted limits.
- A narrow application of the government’s rewritten Section 241 is unfeasible.
- The government’s interpretation lacks definitive boundaries, raising concerns about its potential misuse.
- The interpretation invites the risk of selective prosecution.
- The government’s choice of venue further amplifies these concerns.
AFL asserts that such a broad application of Section 241 by the government could lead to limitless future applications.
Gene Hamilton, Vice President and General Counsel of America First Legal, voiced strong concerns about the Biden Administration’s approach to free speech and its handling of the DOJ.
“If you have any doubts about the current state of affairs in the United States, the Biden Administration’s lack of respect for free speech, or the extent of the weaponization of the Department of Justice, the Biden Administration used the ‘KKK Act’ to prosecute Douglass Mackey for posting memes on social media. This unprecedented prosecution could set the stage for even more prosecutions by the Biden Administration for speech with which it disagrees. This cannot stand, and we are proud to file a brief in support of Mr. Mackey,” said Hamilton.
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