Topic: Decline of the West
For the past two years, the Obama Justice Department (if that’s not an oxymoron) has been pursuing a case against a group of extremist militia members in Michigan. In 2008, the FBI planted an informant inside the so-called Hutaree Militia. The anti-government material passed to the FBI by the informant was used by the Justice Department—by then under Attorney General Eric Holder—to build a case that the group was conspiring to rebel against the government. In 2010, the Hutaree Militia was broken up in a series of raids and arrests. Nine members of the group were eventually charged.
Yesterday, however, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts dismissed most of the charges against seven of the defendants, ruling that group’s expressions of hatred of government authority, extreme though they were, did not rise to the level of sedition. (The FBI investigation uncovered no evidence that the Hutaree Militia was planning actual attacks against the government.) On the contrary, Roberts observed, such speech falls under the protection of the First Amendment.
Given the extreme nature of the Hutaree Militia’s anti-government ranting, the FBI was quite right to monitor the group. But if there was never a specific plot to commit a terrorist act, why bring charges? I have no doubt that the Holder Justice Department was seeking to show its even-handedness: “See? We don’t just pick on Muslim terrorists!” It was a PR stunt, and it backfired.
Was the judge right to rule as she did? Without question—and her legal reasoning applies quite as much to Islamofascist terrorists, environmental extremists, anti-capitalist anarchists, etc. as it does to right-wing hate groups. At a time when free speech is under attack from all quarters—though particularly from the Left—Judge Roberts’ ringing endorsement of the First Amendment is particularly welcome.