An important free speech case will be considered before the United States Supreme Court this Friday, March 28. The Court will decide whether to grant a writ of certiorari in the case of Rick Stanley v. State of Colorado.
Rick Stanley is in prison for six years for threatening to have two Colorado judges arrested for ignoring his Constitutional right to bear arms. He appears to be the only U.S. citizen ever to be imprisoned solely for threatening to issue an arrest warrant.
Here are several details about the case.
Mr. Stanley was under surveillance by the federal government's domestic anti-terrorism task force when he was protesting against an Ashton, Colorado gun ordinance in 2002, while campaigning for the United States Senate. He was arrested for illegal gun possession. Rick Stanley was convicted at trial, and this conviction was affirmed on appeal. Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature passed a law striking down city ordinances like the one in Ashton.
Mr. Stanley, at that time representing himself, filed a notice with the trial and appellate courts in which he claimed that his constitutional right to bear arms had been violated, and invoked the Colorado legislature's recent law striking down the ordinance. The notice demanded that his conviction be reversed and his gun returned, or else an arrest warrant for treason would be issued against the judges for violating his constitutional rights under the United States and Colorado Constitutions, and under the judges' oaths of office.
He was arrested and subsequently convicted of two counts of attempting to influence a public official by threat, and is currently serving a six-year prison sentence in Colorado (two maximum consecutive three-year terms). Mr. Stanley has no previous record, and is an honorably-discharged veteran and successful Denver businessman. Now, as a convicted felon for pure political speech, he has lost his rights to vote or own a gun.
Attorney John Klar, who is representing Stanley before the United States Supreme Court, asserts that Mr. Stanley's notice to the courts was clearly intended as a political protest to publicize events in Colorado. Klar is thoroughly convinced that his client's First Amendment right to free speech was violated to silence his outspoken protests against government restrictions of gun ownership. "Should Americans who charge President Bush with treason for going into Iraq be imprisoned for threatening to kill the President?" Klar asks. "This is essentially what was done to Rick Stanley, and what can be done to any American if the Supreme Court declines to hear this case."
The D.C. v. Heller case is being closely watched by Second Amendment advocates: should the Supreme Court on Friday decline to grant Rick Stanley's writ, those who wish to publicly proclaim their right to bear arms had better not do so to judges or politicians, or they may lose their freedom, like Rick Stanley did.. as well as their votes, their voices and their guns.
This case has garnered national attention because it concerns the rights of American citizens to freely express their opinions about gun ownership - but also about war, abortion, religious views, etc.
Video - http://youtube.com/watch?v=qn3_2eIQ684