Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Even "Extreme" Smack-Talk In Politics Is Okay, Despite Squeamish Objections

The Volokh Conspiracy » The First Amendment and Speech That Allegedly Threatens Public Officials: read all of it; partial summary as follows:

  • The Supreme Court has made clear that threats — including threats against the life of the President — can only be punished if they are “true threats."

  • U.S. v. Watts (1969), held that the Constitution protects even the statement "If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.," said at antiwar rally.

  • If the concern is not that the President will feel threatened, but that some readers might be moved by such statements to attack the President, the speech remains protected.

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