The Onion files Supreme Court amicus transient defending the proper to parody


Irrespective of the sarcasm and hyperbole, the lawful brief is not a joke.

The Onion files Supreme Court amicus transient defending the proper to parody
The U.S. Supreme Court docket Making on October 03, 2022 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Photos

The Onion – a satirical publication recognised for poking pleasurable at anything from well-liked culture to worldwide politics – is taking a stab at a serious situation. On Monday, it filed an amicus transient to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an Ohio guy who confronted criminal expenses over a Fb webpage parodying his regional law enforcement office.

Anthony Novak, an newbie comic from Parma, a Cleveland suburb, was arrested and briefly jailed after producing a phony social media website page in 2016 styled soon after the Parma Police Department’s Facebook page. His attorneys argue it was an apparent parody, and he was acquitted at demo.

Novak subsequently submitted a civil suit alleging his constitutional legal rights had been violated, nevertheless that was dismissed right after a federal appeals court docket granted the police officers competent immunity – a legal doctrine that guards authorities officers from remaining sued for allegedly violating civil legal rights. “There’s no recognized proper to be no cost from a retaliatory arrest that is supported by probable cause,” the appellate judges ruled.

Now, Novak is petitioning the Supreme Courtroom to take up his case.

Real to type, the supporting brief submitted by the Onion’s lawyers Monday will take a satirical tactic in its bid to get the nation’s top rated court docket to take into consideration Novak’s petition. It starts off with an outlandishly untrue assert that the Onion is “the world’s main information publication,” with a “daily readership of 4.3 trillion” that has “grown into the one most highly effective and influential firm in human historical past.”

In spite of the sarcasm and hyperbole, the lawful transient isn’t a joke. The publication’s goal is to get the Supreme Courtroom to scrutinize qualified immunity and cost-free speech legal rights. (Amicus briefs are files submitted by events not instantly associated in a case to present the courtroom with added information.)

“The Onion simply cannot stand idly by in the deal with of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is specifically potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely by the way, varieties the foundation of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks,” the short suggests.

It also highlights what the Onion indicates are shortcomings in the authorized method when it will come to guarding all those who use comedy to query individuals in positions of authority.

“The Onion consistently pokes its finger in the eyes of repressive and authoritarian regimes, these as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, and domestic presidential administrations,” the temporary suggests. “So The Onion’s experienced parodists ended up a lot less than enthralled to be confronted with a authorized ruling that fails to keep authorities actors accountable for jailing and prosecuting a would-be humorist basically for earning entertaining of them.”

In accordance to Novak’s legal professionals, police received a warrant for his arrest above a bogus Facebook web page that mocked the department. The web page in issue was up for only about 12 several hours right before Novak took it down following legislation enforcement threatened a legal investigation. They searched his apartment, seized his electronics and billed him with a felony less than an Ohio law that criminalizes making use of a personal computer to “disrupt” police functions.

Novak’s petition phone calls on the Supreme Courtroom to come to a decision whether or not officials can assert qualified immunity when they arrest a person dependent purely on speech. It also asks the justices to do absent with the doctrine completely.

The Onion didn’t right away respond to a ask for for remark on its lawful brief. The Parma police officials named in the short could not be immediately attained for remark, although the city’s authorized department did not instantly return requests for remark overnight Monday. Andrew Wimer, a spokesman for the Institute for Justice, the civil legal rights legislation nonprofit which is representing Novak, explained the Onion transient as “both humorous and extremely major.”

“If the police can use their authority to arrest their critics without having consequence, everyone’s rights are at risk,” the institute mentioned in a statement.

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