RICHMOND, Va. — Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute will present oral argument in Raub v. Campbell before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Jan. 28, 2015, asking the court to reinstate the lawsuit of a decorated Marine who was seized by a swarm of Secret Service, FBI and local police officials and involuntary committed for a week because of controversial song lyrics and political views he posted on his Facebook page. In a related matter, Rutherford Institute attorneys have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States on behalf of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.
"Whether it's a Marine arrested for criticizing the government on Facebook or an ex-husband jailed for expressing his frustrations through rap lyrics on Facebook, the end result is the same—the criminalization of free speech," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. "While social media and the Internet have become critical forums for individuals to freely share information and express their ideas, they have unfortunately also become tools for the government to monitor, control and punish the populace for behavior and speech that may be controversial but are far from criminal."
Brandon Raub, a decorated Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. On Aug.16, 2012, Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub's home, asked to speak with him about his Facebook posts, and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to a medical facility, where he was held against his will for psychological evaluation and treatment.
In coming to Raub's aid, Rutherford Institute attorneys challenged the government's actions as a violation of Raub's First and Fourth Amendment rights. On Aug. 23, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett ordered Raub's immediate release, stating that the government's case was "so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy." Rutherford Institute attorneys filed a lawsuit in May 2013, challenging the government's actions as procedurally improper and legally unjustified. In February 2014, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting concerns over government suppression of dissident speech as "far-fetched."
In appealing to the Fourth Circuit, Institute attorneys claim that the Chesterfield County mental health screener who recommended Raub's seizure and commitment failed to exercise reasonable professional judgment in interviewing and in wrongly determining that Raub was mentally ill and dangerous, thereby violating Raub's rights under the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit also asserts that Raub's seizure and detention were the result of a mental health screener's dislike of Raub's "unpatriotic" views on federal government misconduct, thereby violating the ex-Marine's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Attorneys William H. Hurd and Stephen C. Piepgrass of Troutman Sanders and Anthony Troy and Charles A. Zdebski of Eckert Seamens Cherin & Mellott are assisting The Rutherford Institute by representing Brandon Raub.
August 23, 2012 • VICTORY: Circuit Court Orders Brandon Raub Released, Dismisses Case Against Marine Arrested, Detained in Veterans Admin. Psych Ward over Political Views, Song Lyrics Posted on Facebook