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Politics Appeals court strikes parts of anti-rioting law used to charge white nationalists

23:43  04 march  2021
23:43  04 march  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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(AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the convictions of two members of a white supremacist group who admitted they punched and kicked counter-demonstrators during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, but found that part of an anti - riot law used to prosecute them “treads too far The court said the law wasn’t challenged for decades until three other members of the Rise Above Movement won a ruling last year from a federal judge in California who found that the law is unconstitutional and dismissed charges against the men. That ruling is currently being appealed by

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the convictions of two members of a white supremacist group who admitted they punched and kicked counter-demonstrators during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, but found that part of an anti - riot law used to prosecute They declined to say whether they will appeal the ruling, but said they are “evaluating potential next steps." A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen declined to comment. Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville in August 2017 in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen.

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that parts of an anti-rioting law are unconstitutional, narrowing a statute that had been challenged by a group of alleged white nationalists accused of conspiring to foment unrest.

a car parked on a city street: Appeals court strikes parts of anti-rioting law used to charge white nationalists © Getty Images Appeals court strikes parts of anti-rioting law used to charge white nationalists

A three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1968 Anti-Riot Act has "some constitutional defects" that should be struck down while keeping the law largely intact.

The panel said in its opinion that the law prohibited "protected speech tending to 'organize,' 'promote' or 'encourage' a riot and by expanding that prohibition to 'urging' a riot and to mere advocacy, the Act criminalizes a substantial amount of protected speech."

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The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia has ruled that the 1968 Anti - Riot Act is partially unconstitutional, yet upheld the convictions of nationalist appellants Michael Miselis and Benjamin Daley. Miselis and Daley pled guilty to “conspiracy to riot” charges in 2019 after engaging in self-defense against “antifa” attackers at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017. Miselis and Daley were prosecuted using the questionable and rarely used law by former US Attorney Thomas Cullen after a far-left group released a propaganda movie portraying their martial arts club

Kamala Harris' decision to focus on white nationalists comes at a moment when there's been a growing push to enact red flag laws . The Democratic presidential candidate's proposal calls for the creation of “domestic terrorism prevention orders” that would give law enforcement and family members of suspected white nationalists or domestic terrorists the ability to petition a federal court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if the person exhibits clear evidence of being a danger.

The ruling overturns a district court judge's decision to throw out indictments against a group of four men affiliated with the white nationalist "Rise Above Movement" for allegedly conspiring to violate the act.

The Ninth Circuit ruling echoes a similar finding from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The Fourth Circuit found that the law "sweeps up a substantial amount of speech that remains protected advocacy" in response to a challenge from defendants who had been charged in connection with organizing the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Both rulings cited a major 1969 Supreme Court decision involving a Ku Klux Klan leader charged with advocating violence in violation of Ohio state law by calling for a march on Congress at a rally.

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The case underscored the challenges the government faces in successfully prosecuting white nationalists accused of advocating or planning acts of violence with the absence of a federal law that explicitly addresses domestic terrorism. A U.S. district judge this week tossed out a case by federal prosecutors against members of a white nationalist group accused of conspiring to incite riots at political rallies, just a day before House Democrats pressed top FBI officials over the government's response to the rising threat of white supremacist extremism.

— California authorities announced charges Tuesday against two people after a violent melee during a white nationalist group’s rally outside the California state Capitol building last year, a number that falls far short of the 101 people the California Highway Patrol recommended charging . The two arrests were on charges of assault with a deadly weapon or using force likely to cause great bodily harm and participating in a riot . William Planer, who prosecutors say was supporting the Traditionalist Worker Party, was arrested in Colorado and is awaiting extradition to California.

The decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio found that the government cannot prohibit "advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

"We recognize that the freedoms to speak and assemble which are enshrined in the First Amendment are of the utmost importance in maintaining a truly free society," the Ninth Circuit decision reads. "Nevertheless, it would be cavalier to assert that the government and its citizens cannot act, but must sit quietly and wait until they are actually physically injured or have had their property destroyed by those who are trying to perpetrate, or cause the perpetration of, those violent outrages against them."

"In short, a balance must be struck," the opinion continues. "Brandenburg struck that balance."

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usr: 0
This is interesting!