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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 6/10/15

Obama Justice Department Demands Personal Information on Website Commenters

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AG Loretta Lynch.
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Last week's Supreme Court ruling in the case of Elonis v. United States was trumpeted as a sign that freedom of speech was still truly alive in America. The ruling reversed the conviction of Anthony Elonis who - fancied himself as a rapper - over alleged threats made on Facebook in the form of rap lyrics. Mr. Elonis found himself in serious trouble with the law after posting violent language about his ex-wife and musing about school shootings. For his transgressions he earned a visit from the FBI as well as a nearly four year sentence in a federal prison which SCOTUS overruled on the basis of freedom of speech.

While Elonis's postings were indeed crude and distasteful -- just like millions of others on the internet -- he found himself caught up in a battle with Leviathan and won. But the civil libertarians taking a victory lap and the snarky fascists claiming that America was still "free" missed a very important aspect of the case. Elonis was convicted for implied threats against an individual and not the rogue government and its agents. Now it is apparent that the Obama regime's relentless drive to gut the U.S. Constitution is ongoing, note the immediate DOJ appeal to continue NSA phone surveillance after the passage of the Freedom Act.

The Loretta Lynch led Justice Department has issued a subpoena to libertarian magazine Reason demanding the personal information of several posters on the website message board. The comments could only loosely be seen as 'serious' threats towards the federal judge who sent the founder of Dark Web marketplace Silk Road to the hole for life.

As reported by the popular website Buzzfeed in the story "Justice Department Subpoenas To Unmask Commenters":

The Justice Department has issued a federal grand jury subpoena to Reason, a prominent libertarian publication, to unmask the identity of commenters who made alleged threats against a federal judge.

In the June 2 subpoena, first published by the blog Popehat on Monday, the Justice Department orders Reason to provide a federal grand jury with "any and all identifying information" on the identities of commenters who mused about shooting federal judges and/or feeding them through a wood chipper.

A May 31 article on Reason's blog about the prosecution of Silk Road founder Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht spurred the anonymous commenters' vitriol. Ulbricht pleaded for leniency, but a federal judge sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without parole for setting up the illicit online drug market.

"It's judges like these that should be taken out back and shot," one Reason commenter wrote.

"It's judges like these that will be taken out back and shot," another responded.

"Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly," a third wrote. "Especially if you feed them in feet first."

Another comment suggested shooting such judges on courthouse steps instead.

Other comments flagged by the Justice Department were less violent, such as one that wished for "a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman."

In the subpoena, the Justice Department says it is seeking evidence regarding possible violations of federal laws against interstate threats.

The subpoena raises several First Amendment issues, such as whether the comments rise to the level of a "true threat" or are protected free speech. The Supreme Court recently ruled that "true threats" must be made with some knowledge or intent that the threat will be taken seriously.

Kimberly Chow, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the comments on Reason clearly fall within the internet's regular, if outrageous and often vile, discourse.

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Donn Marten Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Donn Marten is a free lance writer and consultant who resides in West Central Florida.

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