On his website, attorney Jonathan Turley has been commenting on the challenges of this year’s presidential election.
According to him, although he has not seen evidence of systemic voter fraud, there have been hundreds of affidavits alleging localized fraud, including cases of some deceased people who voted.
Turley says that the challenges should be heard and the evidence examined.
The most worrisome response for Turley was from Michigan where Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Office of Public Information threatened a website, Big League Politics, with criminal prosecution if it did not take down a video of alleged voting fraud.
In Turley’s opinion, although the video may be misleading or false, the threat of criminal prosecution by the Michigan Attorney General’s office was overboard. In Turley’s own words, it was a “chilling escalation of the crackdown on free speech in this country and the calls for censorship on the Internet.”
President-elect Joe Biden has even called for such censorship, and he has blocked President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting. Bill Russo, who is a deputy communications director of the Biden campaign, tweeted that Facebook “is shredding the fabric of our democracy” by allowing such views to be shared freely.
Additionally, the Cease and Desist letter instructs the Big League Politics website to take down all posts, links, and anything similar immediately that correspond with #LeakDetroit.
Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark stated that “failure to comply will result in criminal prosecution.” Despite that, there was no citation of any penal code provision that makes posting such allegations a crime, which is a standard element in such letters.
The letter was referring to the false information about how poll workers counted challenged votes before 2020 and whether challenged ballots could be excluded from the official count.
According to Turley, although the claims could be misleading or false, he does not believe it was necessary for Nessel to criminalize those allegations.
Turley proceeded to cite the United States v. Alvarez, which repeatedly found similar criminalization of alleged speech to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court had held in Alvarez:
Justice Breyer noted in the Alvarez case that our constitutional protections agree with “the common understanding that some false statements are inevitable if there is to be an open and vigorous expression of views in public and private conversation, expression the First Amendment seeks to guarantee.”
Turley cited another lawsuit — New York Times v. Sullivan, where the Court noted that “[the] erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate.”
Turley believes that the concerns over Nessel’s threat are magnified by the fact that the allegation challenges the results of the elections, which favor her own party and political allies.
According to Turley, “If such a posting is a crime, what would stop Nessel from prosecuting the New York Times or Fox News for such videos or alleged whistleblower evidence?”
“The threat of criminal prosecution should be immediately withdrawn by Nessel and her office,” Turley concluded.