A Ruling on Terrorism That Throttles Civil Liberties

On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.

 

You can read our op-ed at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/27/ruling-terrorism-that-throttles-civil-liberties/LXmml8hiFCkugBmvmYEt5J/story.html
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Political Wisdom in a Hypocritical Age

I’ve been asked many times of late where I stand in the current presidential race. This has raised for me larger questions, the answers to some of which have perhaps become evident in my writings of recent years. So when The Phoenix (successor, as of today’s inaugural issue now on newsstands, in street boxes, and at www.thephoenix.com,to the decades-old Boston Phoenix) asked me to write a “Freedom Watch” essay on the politics of the day, I made an attempt to compress many thoughts on numerous complicated issues into a brief essay. I hope that I’ve succeeded in enlightening rather than confusing my readers.

You can find some of the article after the jump.
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To the CEO of Gibson Guitar: It's Not Just a War Against Capitalism

On July 19, there appeared in the Wall Street Journal an interesting Op-Ed by Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar, claiming that a raid on his company’s facilities by federal agents is representative of a greater “war against capitalism.” Yet as my co-author Zachary Bloom and I argue in our latest piece for my Forbes.com blog, “Injustice Department,” Juszkiewicz’s Op-Ed suffers for being too narrow and self-focused. In reality, the raid on Gibson’s facilities is less representative of a war on capitalism than of a war on all of civil society, being waged by an out-of-control U.S. Department of Justice wielding vague laws passed by a Congress that clearly does not understand the consequences of its legislative actions, and regulations enacted by administrative agencies drunk with their own powers.

The article after the jump...


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The Arizona Legislature Tries to Bully the Constitution

My research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I just wrote a piece for Forbes.com about the absurd new Arizona anti-bullying law passed by the state legislature and awaiting Governor Jan Brewer's signature. The bill is just the latest in a series of federal and state laws that seek to ban protected speech by renaming it as something else, then outlawing it. The Arizona bill is a particularly clumsy example of this phenomenon, with the legislature crudely attempting to expand its anti-harassment law to prohibit any form of electronic communication that might be considered "annoying" or "offensive" to the recipient.

As we point out in our article, this bill would essentially criminalize the conduct of anyone who wishes to participate in any public forum. Pundits, too, should beware: from Rush Limbaugh to Bill Maher,those from both sides of the political spectrum who seek to provoke and offend via electronic communications would be liable to face criminal charges under this bill.
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Sometimes the Tobacco Companies are Right


Sometimes we can even be thankful for tobacco companies. On November 7th, Judge Richard Leon enjoined the FDA from enforcing new regulations which would force tobacco companies to emblazon their cigarette packages with graphic images depicting the worst ravages of diseases caused by smoking. While we are hardly fans of smoking tobacco or the companies which sell cigarettes, as my research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I write on Forbes.com this week, the tobacco companies were absolutely correct in their objections, and Judge Richard Leon’s decision represents an important reminder that the First Amendment guarantees us not only the right to speak, but also the right NOT to speak (and, in particular, the right not to parrot the government’s preferred point-of-view).

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Updates related to Harvey's
book Three Felonies a Day, a critical
take on the Justice Department

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