America First Legal Files Brief Defending Douglass Mackey’s Right to Free Speech and Against Biden’s Weaponization of the Department of Justice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL), along with its co-counsel at  Boyden Gray PLLC, filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting Douglass Mackey’s right to free speech.

Douglass Mackey was convicted in federal court in New York for posting satirical memes on the internet–under the statute generally referred to as the Ku Klux Klan Act. This selective prosecution by the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) comes amid the DOJ’s failure to charge progressive activists for doing the exact same thing and its larger efforts to prosecute and use the government against political opponents

Speech about elections and political rivals – even if misleading or inaccurate, and especially satirical speech – is as old as democracy itself, yet no one ever thought Section 241 made that a crime. In its brief, AFL noted that it is “telling that the government has cited no cases where section 241 has been applied to deceptive speech on any topic.”

In its brief, AFL argues:

  • The government stretches Section 241 beyond its universally recognized limits;
  • The government’s rewrite of Section 241 will be impossible to apply narrowly;
    • The government’s interpretation lacks meaningful limits;
    • The government’s interpretation of Section 241 invites selective prosecution;
  • The government’s use of improper venue compounds concerns about the government’s interpretation of Section 241.

The government’s application of Section 241 opens Pandora’s box and effectively places no limitation on how it could be applied in the future. AFL argues that the government’s interpretation of the word “injure” in this context is without support in the statute or historical practice. AFL is proud to continue the fight against government targeting of conservative free speech. 

Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice President and General Counsel:

“If you have any doubts about the current state of affairs in the United States, the Biden Administration’s lack of respect for free speech, or the extent of the weaponization of the Department of Justice, the Biden Administration used the ‘KKK Act’ to prosecute Douglass Mackey for posting memes on social media. This unprecedented prosecution could set the stage for even more prosecutions by the Biden Administration for speech with which it disagrees. This cannot stand, and we are proud to file a brief in support of Mr. Mackey,“ said Gene Hamilton.

Read the brief here.

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