The 9th Circuit Court has now ruled that threatening to assassinate the President of the United States is protected speech under the First Amendment.
(SAN FRANCISCO) A federal appeals court Friday overturned an inmate’s conviction for writing a crude, rambling letter endorsing President Bush’s death at the hands of terrorists two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The letter from Oregon State Penitentiary prisoner Jonathan Lincoln, who was charged with threatening the president and given an 18-month sentence last year, read, in part: “You will die too George W Bush real Soon they Promised That you would Long Live Bin Laden.”
Corrections officials intercepted the letter; Lincoln had been serving a 46-month sentence for robbery.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the letter was protected under the First Amendment, calling it “Lincoln’s crude and offensive method of stating a political opposition to the president.” The court noted “such political hyperbole does not constitute a threat.”
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