Conservative Bloggers Get Legal Help in the Fight For Free Speech

June 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm (ACLJ, Ali Akbar, American Center for Law and Justice, Blogger, Brett Kimberlin, Conservative, First Amendment, Free Speech, Jay Sekulow, Michelle Malkin, National Bloggers Club)

In the ongoing battle against SWAT-ting and those forces who would like to quell free speech, conservatives just received major reinforcements.

Today, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), through Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, has announced that they too will stand against the harassing and dangerous tactics of domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin and his ilk, and stand for the First Amendment and free speech.

Here is the press release:

ACLJ  DEFENDS  FREE  SPEECH  IN  BLOGOSPHERE – REPRESENTS  TOP CONSERVATIVE BLOGGERS  TARGETED  FOR  HARASSMENT

(Washington, DC) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law, announced today it is providing legal representation to a top conservative blogger and his organization that represents many other bloggers who are facing threats and intimidation tactics by those opposed to their viewpoint.

“Free speech is under attack,” said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel. “Conservative writers are now facing threats against themselves, their families, and their livelihoods merely because they’ve aggressively investigated the history and funding of radical liberals. The ACLJ has a long history of successfully defending free speech, and we look forward to defeating this latest attempt to threaten and intimidate conservatives into silence.”

The issue involves targeting a number of conservative bloggers with a dangerous and illegal tactic that’s become known as SWAT-ing – (making false 911 calls sending police to the homes of bloggers, claiming a crime has occurred.) The tactic is used in retaliation for posts the conservative bloggers have written.

The ACLJ is representing Ali Akbar, a top blogger and president of the National Bloggers Club, a coalition of conservative bloggers which reaches millions of readers. Akbar has seen his mother’s home photographed and placed on the internet. He has also received formal notification that he may soon be sued for publishing truthful information about radical liberals and their wealthy donors.

“I’m grateful for the support of the ACLJ, and I’m confident we’ll defeat any and all legal challenges to our fundamental right to free speech,” said Akbar. “We will not be deterred in our quest for the truth.”

The ACLJ will aggressively defend the constitutionally-protected free speech rights of Akbar and his organizations.

The ACLJ’s representation of Akbar comes as Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the SWAT-ting cases to see if federal laws have been violated. In a letter to the Attorney General, Sen. Chambliss wrote: “Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels. . . Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse.”

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is based in Washington, D.C. and online at http://www.aclj.org.

Here is a blog post from Jay Sekulow on the matter (courtesy of Michelle Malkin).

Sekulow explains why his organization is jumping into the fray:

Free speech is under attack. Conservative writers are now facing threats against themselves, their families, and their livelihoods merely because they’ve aggressively investigated the history and funding of radical liberals …

… The ACLJ will be providing legal representation to Akbar and his organization of conservative bloggers who are facing threats and intimidation tactics by those opposed to their viewpoint. We will aggressively defend their constitutionally-protected free speech rights from these unwarranted attacks …

… The ACLJ has a long history of successfully defending free speech, and we look forward to defeating this latest attempt to threaten and intimidate conservatives into silence.

This type of support is invaluable, as most bloggers (as Kimberlin is well aware) find it difficult to sustain any lengthy and successful legal battles.  Now however, they have an accomplished means to fight back in court.

To date, nobody has backed down to Kimberlin and the SWAT-ters.  To the contrary, they are now escalating their defensive efforts.

These opponents of free speech have truly picked the wrong targets.

Thank you ACLJ!

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Does The First Amendment Protect Bloggers Too?

February 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm (Blogger, Crystal Cox, First Amendment, Franklin Center, Journalist, Main Stream Media, MSM, Protect Your Voice, Washington Examiner)

A court ruling last December would seem to indicate that no, bloggers are not privy to the same legal protections afforded so-called real journalists.

Via the Washington Examiner:

This past December, federal judge Marco Hernandez of Oregon issued a ruling in the libel trial of Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox that has dangerous First Amendment implications.
Hernandez ruled that blogger Crystal Cox was not entitled to the same protection under media shield laws that other members of the press enjoy. This ruling made it easy for a jury to find her guilty of libel. That result threatens the First Amendment rights of all citizen-journalists.

I would argue that the work being performed by bloggers can sometimes be far superior and more timely than that being manufactured by the main stream media.  From my personal experience, every time that I have come across something for the first time on an outlet like MSNBC or CNN, and commence researching, that topic has already been widely covered in the blogosphere.

But we’re not debating quality of work here.  We’re debating basic First Amendment rights.

In a terrific op-ed by Jason Stverak, a strong case to apply those rights to bloggers is made:

“… why is this issue so complicated? Bloggers, like all citizens of the United States, have First Amendment rights. Has the definition of a journalist changed? Or has perception and therefore legal definition simply not adjusted to modern technology?”

He adds that:

The public now relies on citizen-journalists to perform an invaluable service to our democracy — serving as government watchdogs.

Media shield laws must be revised to make clear that bloggers and all citizen-journalists deserve the same protection as the city hall beat-writer at the local newspaper.

If you believe that bloggers should be included in a state’s shield laws and granted Freedom of the Press rights, then please sign the petition at Protect Your Voice.

And please read the rest of the op-ed about bloggers and First Amendment rights here…

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