NC Supreme Court Says Dumbass’ "Mountain Justice" Threats to DA Are Free Speech
Tues., Dec. 21: Speaking of mountain justice, let’s talk about Joe Manchin …
» SCONC Says Dumbass’ Facebook Threats are Protected Speech
I love a good First Amendment case. And back in March, the Supreme Court of North Carolina heard one. Its ruling came down on Friday. (If this stuff bores you, maybe skip to the next entry.)
Here’s a quick rundown:
In August 2016, a Macon County resident named David Warren Taylor consumed large quantities of beer and decided to get on Facebook—never a good idea.
He’d found out that District Attorney Ashley Welch, whom he’d supported, had decided not to prosecute the parents of a child who died under unusual circumstances. An autopsy confirmed the parents’ story and showed that the two-year-old had died from a virus, not mistreatment or abuse.
On Facebook, Taylor declared this a “load of F**cking shit.” If he stopped there, we wouldn’t be talking about him. But he didn’t.
So I learned today that the couple Who brought their child Into that er whom had been dead to the point that the er room had to be closed off due to the smell of the dead child Will face no Charges. I regret the day I voted for the new DA with this outcome. This is totally sickening to know that a child, whether by Ashley Welch’s decision or not is not granted this type of Protection in our court system. Im tired of standing back and seeing how our judicial system works. I voted for it to change and apparently it never will. With this people question why a rebellion against our government is coming? I hope those that are friends with her share my post because she will be the first to go, period and point made.
He kept going.
Sick is not the word for it. This folks is how the government and the judicial system works, Now U wonder why I say if I am raided for whatever reason like the guy on smoke rise was. When the deputy ask me is it worth it. I would say with a Shotgun Pointed at him and a ar15 in the other arm was it worth to him? Who cares what happens to the person I meet at the door. I’m sure he won’t. I would open every gun I have. I would rather be carried by six than judged by twelve. … Death to our so called judicial system since it only works for those that are guilty! U want me come and take me.
He told a Facebook friend to share his post on Welch’s page. Another friend called for “vigilante justice”—which, a judge noted, “was punctuated by markedly numerous exclamation marks.”
Taylor kept going.
If that what it takes[.] I will give them both the [mountain] justice they deserve. Regardless of what the law or courts say. I’m tired of this political bullshit. If our head prosecutor won’t do anything then the death to her as well. Yea I said it. Now raid my house for communicating threats and see what they meet. After all those that flip Together swim together. Although this isn’t a house or pond they want to fish in.
[Welch] won’t try a case unless it gets her TV time. Typical politician. Notice that none of them has responded yet? Although I’m sure My house is being Monitored right about now! I really hope They are ready for what meet them at the front door. Something tells Me they aren’t!
It can start at my house. Hell this has to start somewhere. If the courts won’t do it as have been proven. Then yes it Is up to the people to administer justice! I’m always game to do so. They make new ammo everyday! Maybe you need to learn what being free is verse being a puppet of the government. If u did u would might actually be happy! I think we both know of someone who will like this Comment Or Like this post.
Don’t get me started on this. The court system and Most importantly western nc justice system is useless. It’s all about money to the courts than it Is about justice. It is time for old Time mtn justice! Yes I said it. Now let Them knock on my door.
He sounds like a peach, doesn’t he?
Taylor deleted the thread the next morning, but the SBI had already been alerted. An agent came by the next afternoon. Taylor apologized; the agent arrested him anyway for threatening to harm or kill a court officer.
“U want me come and take me” indeed.
Taylor went to trial in January 2018. The defense wanted the jury instructed that the First Amendment forbade his conviction unless he had communicated a “true threat.” Prosecutors argued that under state law, the First Amendment was irrelevant because a court official was threatened—a rather Orwellian argument.
The trial judge agreed, telling the jury there was “no requirement of proof to show that the threat was made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe it is likely to be carried out.”
Taylor was convicted and sentenced to 6-17 months in prison. His sentence was suspended upon 24 months of probation. He appealed.
Last year, the Court of Appeals reversed his verdict and said his case should be thrown out, with a three-judge panel ruling that his Facebook threats weren’t “true threats.”
So here we are at the state Supreme Court, which tasked itself with this question:
“Does the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protect [Taylor] from being convicted solely for publishing the messages contained in his Facebook posts?”
The answer: yes. In short, the Court ruled Taylor’s intent mattered.
Justice Mike Morgan:
The State also submits that requiring prosecutors to establish a defendant’s subjective intent will “hinder the State’s ability to protect its citizens from unlawful threats of violence.” While we do not diminish the magnitude and legitimacy of the State’s concern, nonetheless its desire to totally eliminate the element of a defendant’s subjective intent must yield to the constitutional freedoms shielded by the First Amendment and recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States.
But the SCONC didn’t go as far as the Court of Appeals. While it said the COA was right to vacate the conviction, a jury deserved to hear the case, only with proper instructions.
Justice Anita Earls partially dissented, saying the case should be tossed.
An objectively reasonable observer viewing Taylor’s Facebook posts in their full context could not understand his messages to contain a serious intention to inflict bodily harm on District Attorney Welch.
The moral of this Christmas tale?
Get drunk, get on Facebook, and post the first thing that comes to mind about local electeds, I suppose.
» Say It Ain’t So, Joe
Last Tuesday, Joe Manchin presented Joe Biden with a proposal for a Build Back Better-lite bill that included most of the original’s big-ticket items but nixed the extended child tax credits, which Manchin, a Man of the People (and a coal millionaire who drives a Maserati), believes The Poors use to buy drugs.
In real life, the tax credits have lifted 3.6 million kids out of poverty.
On Friday, Biden said negotiations would last beyond the New Year, and mentioned Joe Manchin by name. That—as well as “absolutely inexcusable” things the White House staff did—apparently made him angry.
The White House was pissed.
Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better.
Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids. If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break.
Manchin says he’s willing to work on a scaled-back version of BBB. In other words, Dems might get the deal he offered Biden and nothing more.
Senator Chuck Schumer says he’ll put BBB on the Senate floor next month anyway, though that will likely do little beyond making Manchin dig in.
House progressives who voted for the infrastructure bill feel conned. Those who didn’t feel vindicated. Biden, who promised them he could get Manchin on board, has lost credibility with both camps.
Goldman Sachs projected slower economic growth next year after Manchin’s announcement. For Dems already facing a tough election, that’s not good news.
So now what?
The obvious answer, at least to me, is to take the W. In other words whatever Manchin offered last Tuesday, see if it’s still on the table, put it in a bill, and vote.
Losing the child tax credits won’t make progressives happy, but permanently expanding the Obamacare subsidies and instituting universal pre-K are big deals, and Manchin reportedly agreed to hundreds of billions of dollars in climate-change spending. That’s huge.
Also, there’s a chance—don’t laugh—that Democrats can get Republican buy-in on a standalone child tax credit bill. Mitt Romney has his own CTC proposal, and though it won’t be what Democrats want, something like it might get somewhere.
The CTC, after all, disproportionately helps red states, and is enormously popular.
There’s a lot of hot-taking about what Biden or Pelosi or Schumer could or should have done to play hardball with Manchin.
But the reality is simple: Manchin had his party over a barrel, and he knew it. Biden has no carrots to offer nor any sticks to threaten with.
Using the infrastructure bill as leverage was a nonstarter the second a Republican won the Virginia governor’s race. The White House was flailing and needed a win. It couldn’t afford to take risks like that.
Manchin reps a state that went for Trump by 40 points. He’s never going to be an easy vote for progressive legislation.