Law Firm Warns Against Government Campaign to Clamp Down on 1st Amendment Activity in Social Media

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Published on: February 6, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. — Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute will present oral argument in Raub v. Campbell before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Jan. 28, 2015, asking the court to reinstate the lawsuit of a decorated Marine who was seized by a swarm of Secret Service, FBI and local police officials and involuntary committed for a week because of controversial song lyrics and political views he posted on his Facebook page. In a related matter, Rutherford Institute attorneys have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States on behalf of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.

“Whether it’s a Marine arrested for criticizing the government on Facebook or an ex-husband jailed for expressing his frustrations through rap lyrics on Facebook, the end result is the same—the criminalization of free speech,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “While social media and the Internet have become critical forums for individuals to freely share information and express their ideas, they have unfortunately also become tools for the government to monitor, control and punish the populace for behavior and speech that may be controversial but are far from criminal.”

Brandon Raub, a decorated Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. On Aug.16, 2012, Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home, asked to speak with him about his Facebook posts, and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to a medical facility, where he was held against his will for psychological evaluation and treatment.

In coming to Raub’s aid, Rutherford Institute attorneys challenged the government’s actions as a violation of Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment rights. On Aug. 23, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett ordered Raub’s immediate release, stating that the government’s case was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” Rutherford Institute attorneys filed a lawsuit in May 2013, challenging the government’s actions as procedurally improper and legally unjustified. In February 2014, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting concerns over government suppression of dissident speech as “far-fetched.”

In appealing to the Fourth Circuit, Institute attorneys claim that the Chesterfield County mental health screener who recommended Raub’s seizure and commitment failed to exercise reasonable professional judgment in interviewing and in wrongly determining that Raub was mentally ill and dangerous, thereby violating Raub’s rights under the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit also asserts that Raub’s seizure and detention were the result of a mental health screener’s dislike of Raub’s “unpatriotic” views on federal government misconduct, thereby violating the ex-Marine’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Attorneys William H. Hurd and Stephen C. Piepgrass of Troutman Sanders and Anthony Troy and Charles A. Zdebski of Eckert Seamens Cherin & Mellott are assisting The Rutherford Institute by representing Brandon Raub.

CASE HISTORY

January 27, 2015 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on 1st Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Defends Marine’s Rights

October 10, 2014 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on First Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Asks Court to Affirm Marine’s Free Speech Rights

August 26, 2014 • Citing First & Fourth Amendments, Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 27, 2014 • Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reject Lower Court Dismissal & Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 03, 2014 • Rejecting Concerns Over Gov’t Suppression of Dissident Speech as ‘Far-Fetched’, Fed. Court Dismisses Suit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

August 03, 2013 • VICTORY: Federal Court Affirms 1st & 4th Amdt. Rights, Denies Gov’t Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Marine’s Wrongful Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

July 17, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Counters Government Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Psych Ward Detention of Marine Because of Facebook Posts

May 22, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys File Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 29, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys to File Civil Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 28, 2012 • TRI Exclusive: Marine Brandon Raub Issues First Public Comments Since Being Arrested, Detained in Psych Ward Over Views, Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 23, 2012 • VICTORY: Circuit Court Orders Brandon Raub Released, Dismisses Case Against Marine Arrested, Detained in Veterans Admin. Psych Ward over Political Views, Song Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 22, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Files Notice of Appeal Challenging Arrest & Detention of Marine in Psych Ward for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 21, 2012 • District Court Refuses to Stop Transfer of Marine Brandon Raub to Salem Psych Ward, 3 Hrs. Away, for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 20, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Defends Marine Arrested, Incarcerated in Psych Ward & Detained Indefinitely for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

LEGAL ACTION

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s reply brief in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s brief in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell

Click here to read Judge Hudson’s decision in Raub v. Bowen et. al.

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s complaint in Raub v. Bowen et. al.

Source

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