As promised.

Tommy Robinsonwas jailed for reporting on a criminal trial.

That is almost inconceivable in the United States.

We'll talk about the differences in UK and US law, what avenues Tommy's lawyers might pursue, and why UK law should be changed.

A thread.

#FreeTommy
First, the statute at issue. Section 4.2 of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act allows judges to place "reporting restrictions" on particular trials.

This allows those courts to ban even *true and accurate* reporting about the trial.
The judge in the Leeds Crown Court had put in place just such a restriction on the underlying grooming trial that Tommy reported on.
Notice the broad language of the above order - banning the publication of "any report of these proceedings."

In American law, we call that a "prior restraint" on speech. Prior restraints are presumptively unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
And, just as our Supreme Court has considered the fairness of the summary procedure for contempt, it has considered the legitimacy of the type of reporting restrictions.

It did so in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart - 42 years ago.
The facts of the case are dramatic. A gruesome multiple homicide in a small town in Nebraska of only 850 people. The courts, understandably, were concerned that reporting about the case would make a fair trial impossible.
Ultimately, the district judge put in place a fairly narrow order, postponing reporting on a few specific facts about the case - not even the entire case! - for a brief period.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which considered whether this was constitutional.
The Court began by noting that the tension between the right of defendants to an impartial jury and the right of the public to free speech and freedom of the press had been in tension since the founding, and continued to the present.
It noted, however, that the type of restriction in the case - a prior retraint - is the "least tolerable" infringement on first amendment rights.

Whereas defamation law allows for damages to be recouped AFTER someone has spoken, prior restraints "freeze" it beforehand.
It noted that such freezes were particularly damaging when it came to contemporaneous reporting. Such reporting assists in justice being carried out - by putting a spotlight on prosecutors, judges, and the government
At this point - it's as if the Court anticipates many of the arguments made today to justify the reporting restriction that Tommy allegedly violated.

"It's only a postponement!" you might say.

Well - the news is RELEVANT right now. Postponing it does damage.
Think about this case.

It is about the systematic sexual abuse of children in the UK.

It is absolutely in the public interest to ensure these matters are discussed FULLY by the press.

These reporting restrictions preclude that.
"The element of time is not unimportant."

Exactly.
The Court notes that there are many alternatives available to preserve the fairness of jury trials - searching voir dire (asking questions of jurors), venue change, postponement, and sequestration. Those should be tried before First Amendment rights are infringed.
Another point the Court is ahead of its time on.

Enforcing these orders is hard! What if people talk about the case outside the Court's jurisdiction?

You know, like on Twitter, in foreign countries?

If reporting restrictions do not work, they cannot possibly be just.
The Court notes that the order was narrow, targeting specific material that the lower court thought would prejudice the jury.

It notes the problem - how can you know, in advance, what will be prejudicial and what won't?
Moreover, the court notes - people are going to hear about it anyway. Shouldn't they hear accurate reports?

Sound familiar? There was a reporting restriction on Tommy's case - and as a result, it blew up worldwide, with tons of misinformation spread about the case.
Given this - that reporting restrictions don't work, that they are prior restraints, and that they inhibit many public goods - this reporting restriction was unconstitutional.

And this was for a *narrow* order.
The United Kingdom has a principle of "open justice."

But after watching this case, can we really say that they value open justice?

If, when two values come into conflict, one always loses - do you actually care?
Moreover...Britain always finds a way to be silent about grooming gangs.

While they are going on? Better not talk about them, for fear of being called racist.

While they are being tried? Better not talk about them, we must prevent every possible taint to the trial.
America is better. We believe that, in most cases, jurors can disregard outside information. And we let the press serve its function - to hold the government to account.

Reporting restrictions are unjust. They make a mockery of free speech. They should go.

FIN.

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More from @willchamberlain

Oct 6, 2018
Almost three weeks ago, I called this a shit-test.

It was a test of Republicans' spine - a test of whether they would break in the face of an unverifiable, unfalsifiable, uncorroborated allegation.

They are about to pass.

#ConfirmKavanaugh
I called @ChuckGrassley a "peacetime Senator" and called for his removal as @senjudiciary chair.

He proved me wrong.

He showed his mettle.

Thank you, Senator.

And thanks to the Senator's staff as well - Mike Davis (@mrddmia) first and foremost.

Also, thank you @senatemajldr.

No one has done more to improve their standing in the last year than Cocaine Mitch.

He went from bete noire to folk hero.

We have a true gangster running the Senate, and we should be grateful.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 27, 2018
Starting a commentary thread

Both Grassley and Feinstein are speaking too long

Neither are compelling speakers

Both would have been well served by shorter speeches

#ConfirmJudgeKavanaugh
Also, at this point, Republicans of all stripes despise Feinstein

The longer she talks, the worse it is for Ford

#ConfirmKavanaugh
As an aside: Notice how hard it is to sound persuasive and authentic when you are READING a speech

Your tonality when you read is often different than when you speak

It’s necessary here because people give have to read from prepared opening statements
Read 17 tweets
Sep 26, 2018
We need an FBI investigation into the Democratic plot to smear Brett Kavanaugh! #ConfirmKavanaugh pscp.tv/w/bnrZIDUzMzM2…
Senate Democrats have stated that:

- the burden of proof is on the accused
- there is no presumption of innocence
- innocent people demand FBI investigations of their own behavior if they are accused of wrongdoing

They must call for an FBI investigation into themselves!
Democrats like @ChuckSchumer say there is NO EVIDENCE that Senate Democrats colluded to smear Brett Kavanaugh.

They should welcome an FBI investigation then! After all, if they are innocent, they have nothing to hide!

#ConfirmKavanaugh

Read 5 tweets
Sep 19, 2018
Obvious questions for Christine Blasey Ford:

- Why were you and your husband in couples therapy?
- Why did this accusation come up for the first time in couples therapy?
- Did your husband pressure you to come forward now?

#ConfirmKavanaugh
Christine Blasey Ford and her husband were married in 2002.

The first time she told *anyone* "of the incident in any detail" was 2012.

She kept this from her husband for OVER TEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE.

And then it came up - in couples therapy.

#ConfirmKavanaugh
This is my thesis (and to be clear this is just me extrapolating from public info)

I think Christine Blasey Ford fabricated this story in 2012 to save her marriage.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 17, 2018
The Kavanaugh circus is a reminder of why I voted for Trump.

Democrats are utterly ruthless. They will lie, cheat, steal, and smear to gain power. And they are institutionally bigoted towards straight white men.

Ignore the concern-trolling.

#ConfirmKavanaugh #MAGA
“Just switch to Barrett!”

Hell no.

You saw the hearings.

You saw the Democrats baying for blood.

Think they’ll be satisfied with just one scalp?

#ConfirmKavanaugh
If there was ever a time to stand and fight, it’s now.

If Republicans give in they will lose the House and Senate. 100%. No one will vote for a party of cowards.

The accusation is patent bullshit. Judge Kavanaugh has categorically denied it. The end.

#ConfirmKavanaugh
Read 4 tweets
Sep 10, 2018
Tolerance is our greatest strength.
Diversity is a stressor.

Tolerance is a measure of antifragility
“Diversity is our greatest strength” is a meme designed to increase a society’s tolerance
Read 4 tweets

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