Our very difficult defense in this cutting edge, aggressive DOJ prosecution for alleged violations of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 879 (a)(3) helped infuse new life into the modern scope of First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly and political expression on blogs in internet chat rooms.
Bagdasarian involved the determined prosecution by the federal government of a man who made admittedly crude, racially charged, anti-Obama statements in a financial chat room online. The federal government claimed such statements were violent “true-threats” against then-candidate Obama. After conviction at the trial level, Mr. Bagdasarian was rightfully vindicated by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal when the Court reversed his conviction, reaffirming the subjective intent test for all “true threat” cases first established in Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003). TIME Magazine described the Court’s ruling as follows –“In United States v. Bagdasarian, the 9th Circuit struck the right balance, upholding the public’s right to make loathsome statements that come close to – but do not reach – the level of a true threat.”