Clinton Meme Trial Could Chill Free Speech for All Americans, Attorney Says
Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is being accused of using obscure conspiracy laws to target conservatives.
For example, violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act ordinarily would bring a year in prison. But in the last year, a host of sidewalk counselors at abortion facilities have been charged with both FACE violations and Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights for posting to Facebook about where they would gather.
The conspiracy charge adds a potential 10-years in federal prison.
Douglass Mackey, 31, is on federal trial this week in the Eastern District of New York for posting a satirical meme under the Twitter handle “Ricky Vaughn” in 2016, advising voters they could vote for Hillary Clinton for president via text message or social media.
The DOJ charged him five years later, in 2021, with Conspiracy Against Rights ( 18 U.S. Code § 241), which carries up to 10-years in prison.
“This is a law that was passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, designed to protect the rights of newly freed slaves in the post-civil war South to vote,” James Lawrence, attorney for the Douglass Mackey Defense Fund told The Epoch Times. “Understandably, there were threats to the physical safety of those people with respect to the Ku Klux Klan, and that’s why this is a provision from the Ku Klux Klan Act.”
Passed in 1871, the Conspiracy Against Rights code within the Ku Klux Klan Act has two parts:
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution—
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
They shall be fined or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
Intent to Interfere
There is no mention in the act of posting political memes.
But the DOJ said in its indictment that Mackey, “together with others, conspired to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate one or more persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States”—that is, the right to vote.
It is a statute that has been used historically to go after conduct that is identified in the statute, which is conspiring to physically interfere with someone’s constitutional rights.
Read more here…