INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The state Supreme Court on Thursday said a southeastern Indiana man’s online
rants against the judge who handled his divorce went beyond the limits of
protected free speech.
Brewington’s 2011 conviction for intimidation, the court said his rants
about arson and beatings clearly threatened the safety of the judge and
crossed the boundaries of his right to free speech.
“Fear for one’s
reputation is often the price of being a public figure, or of involvement in
public issues. But fear for one’s safety is not,” Justice Loretta Rush
Brewington’s blog included references to arson and beatings, Brewington said
he didn’t mean for them to be taken literally, but the court said it “saw
through” that claim.
attorney did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press
The case drew the
attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, the conservative Eagle
Forum, constitutional scholars and the James Madison Center for Free Speech,
represented by Republican lawyer James Bopp.
The dispute started
when the judge in Brewington’s divorce case ordered him to undergo a mental
evaluation before considering giving him visitation rights to his children.
A psychologist said he believed Brewington was potentially violent.
by writing scathing attacks about the judge and psychologist in letters and
online, and made it clear that he knew where they lived, the ruling said.
Court documents said Brewington posted on Facebook, “this is like playing
with gas and fire, and anyone who has seen me with gas and fire knows that I
am quite the accomplished pyromaniac.”