Wednesday, July 16, 2008

U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces Rules PFC Jeremy Wilcox's Online "Racist" Statements Were Protected Speech

On July 16th, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that the "racist" online postings of PFC Jeremy T. Wilcox were protected under the First Amendment. By a 4-to-1 decision, the Court found the statements did not go far enough to justify criminal charges. Media stories posted by the Fayetteville (NC)Observer and the Seattle Times.

Click HERE to read 57-page court decision in PDF format.

Nearly eight years ago, military prosecutors charged PFC Jeremy T. Wilcox with making statements online that discredited the Armed Forces and were detrimental to good order and discipline. The outcome of the general court martial, as well as additional background information, can be read in my previous post on this issue.

Other charges, including violating military rules by attending a Ku Klux Klan rally and encouraging participation in extremist organizations, were resolved separately and not a part of this specific appeal.

A civilian police officer notified the military's criminal investigative division after spotting an online profile that contained racist views posted by someone calling himself "US Army Paratrooper," according to the written ruling. That's when a military investigator went undercover, posing as a young woman interested in the white supremacist movement and recording her online conversations with Wilcox, who also referred to himself as "Wskullhead."

The investigator's testimony showed that Wilcox "held beliefs that are both disturbing and inconsistent with Department of Defense policies regarding racial equality and other matters," the high court found. But Wilcox's defense lawyers were able to show that he had good working relationships with minorities in his unit, and that there was no evidence that his racist views adversely affected his military performance. Furthermore, Wilcox thought he was making the statements to a like-minded civilian friend, and not to his fellow soldiers.

However, the Court did not overturn the previous conviction. Instead, the case now returns to the military Court of Criminal Appeals so Wilcox's sentence can be reassessed. The outcome could impact the content of Army Regulation 600-20, a 138-page document in PDF format dated March 2008, which clearly spells out the Army's expectations of soldiers in regards to that type of activity.

Commentary: This is a positive development. While the benefits to PFC Wilcox may be limited, it will increase freedom of speech for other members of the forces, at least off duty. It may trigger a more liberal rewrite of AR 600-20.

Wilcox should never have been court-martialed in the first place. His record showed that he never behaved other than professionally towards his fellow soldiers. The court-martial was politically motivated.


Anonymous said...

8 years for talking to an "undercover" entrapment officer? they put him in jail for 8 years cause someone disagreed with his politics??? this totally discredits the justice system, more like an injustic system. it sounds like something outta stalin's communist russia

Orion said...

Notice it was a civilian police officer that brought this to the Military's attention. Probably surfing for underage girls.

The Police are NOT your friend. They are as anti-white as the the government.