Free speech scores big win in NH courtroom but the government badly wants appeal to ‘shut it all down’…
(5 days ago)
As our country descends into an unjust, unholy communist wasteland under the rule of a bungling despot, it’s refreshing to see some semblance of sanity, justice, and order return, even if it’s only for a fleeting moment.
A recent case involving a group of admittedly unsavory white supremacists from New Hampshire serves as a telling example of concerns that the left is weaponizing the justice system to crush free speech. Critics argue that they are censoring Americans based on politics, not law. In this particular case, which initially took place back in June, members of a neo-Nazi group displayed a banner from a bridge that read, “Keep New England White.” The left, incensed by the message, sought legal action against two of the men — the group leader Christopher Hood and a member named Leo Cullinan.
Obviously, you don’t have to like these people or agree with what they stand for, but that doesn’t mean their rights can simply be erased. Thankfully, the judge agreed and followed the rule of law. The case was tossed out based on the defendants’ First Amendment rights and the prosecution’s ridiculously weak argument. The judge lambasted the prosecution, calling their attempt to invoke a “Civil Rights” statute to prosecute a simple trespassing case “overly broad.”
A superior court judge is dismissing a high profile civil rights case against a regional white supremacist group and its leadership, ruling that New Hampshire prosecutors used an overly broad interpretation of state law to stifle protected speech.
The ruling handed down Monday came after Attorney General John Formella brought a civil rights petition against the group, NSC-131, and two of its members, Leo Cullinan and Christopher Hood, in January.
The defendants are accused of trespassing onto a bridge in Portsmouth last summer, and hanging a banner that read “Keep New England White.”
The civil case, which had been scheduled for trial in late July, came with potential fines for Hood and Cullinan, but no jail time.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing their actions were protected on free speech grounds, and that they removed the banner as soon as they were notified by law enforcement that they were potentially violating a Portsmouth ordinance.
In a 21-page opinion released Monday, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge David Ruoff dismissed the petitions, ruling that the state’s interpretation of the trespass ordinance, as well as the Civil Rights Statute, was overly broad as it applied to the banner.
“The conduct alleged in the complaints, while reprehensible by most civilized standards, does not fit any definition of ‘trespass’ other than the one the Court has concluded is unconstitutional,” Ruoff wrote.
What a colossal waste of time and resources.
However, this is far from over. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office is back in court, attempting once again to bring a civil rights case against the defendant. But this time, there’s only one defendant, as defendant Leo Cullinan died recently.
During a recent hearing, the judge questioned the radical, anti-American prosecution, asking if this was a case of “selective enforcement,” and astutely pondered whether a person who was displaying a rainbow trans flag would be held to the same standard. The answer to that question seems rather obvious, right?
It appears this judge may not budge on the matter and may throw out this selective, wrongful prosecution that is clearly meant to chill free speech that our communistic government doesn’t like.
Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled after Formella asked Ruoff to reconsider his decision, a request reserved for when a party believes a judge may have overlooked or misinterpreted portions of the law.
Exercising First Amendment rights does not permit a person to break the law, Assistant Attorney General Sean Locke argued in court on Wednesday.
Boston lawyer William E. Gens, representing the defendants, said the attorney general’s office would not have brought charges “if it was a blank sign or said, “Love thy Neighbor.”
“It’s not in the spirit of old school free speech,” said Gens, of the law firm Gens & Stanton.
The Mass Live piece continues.
Wednesday’s hearing partially focused on the legal standards of trespassing, but Ruoff also asked Locke whether the case against NSC-131 members constituted selective enforcement of state law and targeted the group for their beliefs. The judge questioned whether charges would be brought against a person who affixed gay pride stickers to a telephone pole.
“We can drive around the state and see all sorts of signs that have been up there for a while,” Ruoff said. “This one gets taken down in 25 minutes.”
Free speech is the next great battle. The left is using every trick in the book to silence those with whom they disagree. But that’s the beauty of “free speech” — the people we disagree with most vehemently or most intensely dislike are the ones who should be able to speak out in a truly open and free society, something we are evidently lacking at the moment.
The defense attorney continued:
Gens said that placing limits on where a person can speak “sets up a minefield of procedural prerequisites” where citizens “need this permit to deliver that message.”
He cited the landmark Supreme Court precedent of Brandenburg v. Ohio, which found that speech can be prohibited by the government if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and it is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
“The message these folks were broadcasting — “Keep New England White” — it may be a very offensive message,” Gens said. “But it doesn’t advocate lawless action.”
“What the attorney general is trying to do is say this speech that would otherwise be protected is no longer protected if you’re posting signs on the highway or violating another ordinance,” Gens said.
The judge is expected to make his ruling over the next several weeks. Let’s hope he remains steadfast in his principles and prioritizes free speech over a fake social justice.