The Spectacle Blog

Brett Kimberlin Lawsuit Threatens Free Speech Rights, Attorney Says

By on 2.19.14 | 12:53PM

Convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin's federal lawsuit against bloggers and journalists is "an attack on free speech," a prominent First Amendment attorney said Tuesday, announcing that he would represent an anonymous blogger who is a defendant in the case.

Paul Alan Levy of the non-profit group Public Citizen noted that he had once represented Kimberlin, at the time a federal prison inmate, in a case where Kimberlin's First Amendment rights were at stake. However, Levy said, Kimberlin is now threatening the rights of others in his attempt to use a federal lawsuit to obtain the identity of the popular conservative blogger known as Ace of Spades: "Among the defendants in the action is an anonymous blogger whom Kimberlin sued for allegedly 'imputing' that Kimberlin was involved in SWATting. . . . Because the blog post said nothing of the kind, I agreed to represent defendant 'Ace of Spades' in opposing Kimberlin’s request for judicial permission to pursue discovery to identify Ace of Spades."

Levy wrote: "SWATting refers to the triggering of a visit by a police SWAT unit to the victim’s home through the placement of a false call for help in connection a fictional violent crime. . . . A number of the allegations about the wrongful speech of the defendants are extremely vague, quoting selected words but asserting that they 'impute' other wrongful conduct."

Kimberlin was "once best known as a federal prisoner who was put in solitary confinement to prevent him from telling reporters that, during his time as a drug dealer in Indiana, he sold drugs to Vice-Presidential candidate Dan Quayle," Public Citizen said in announcing its defense of Ace of Spades.

Kimberlin's federal lawsuit also names me among 20 different defendants, including syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, Red State editor Erick Erickson and radio talk host Glenn Beck. One of my co-defendants has dubbed this case Kimberlin v. the Universe, et al., and Kimberlin alleges he was the victim of a criminal conspiracy under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

In his court motion on behalf of Ace of Spades -- whose defense is also supported by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- Levy argues: "Protection for the right to engage in anonymous communication is fundamental to a free society. ... Not only his conservative adversaries but other bloggers attentive to free speech issues have taken Kimberlin to task for improperly using the courts as a weapon against his critics, a technique that they call 'lawfare.' ... For example, several bloggers have taken Kimberlin to task for using a subpoena to identify one Aaron Walker, which resulted in Walker’s being terminated from his employment, and then pursuing a series of peace orders in Maryland state court which led to Walker’s arrest because a state trial judge believed that Walker’s having blogged about Kimberlin was a violation of a previous peace order."

Walker is the lead defendant in a Maryland state lawsuit filed by Kimberlin -- where, again, I am also a defendant -- in which Kimberlin is currently seeking an injunction that would, if granted, effectively prevent me from continuing to report about and comment on Kimberlin's "lawfare." My attorney is preparing to file a motion in opposition to Kimberlin's request for an injunction, and so the court will eventually rule on whether my rights are also "fundamental to a free society."


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