A US appeals court has ruled that that it is perfectly legal in the US to go on a website and talk about wanting to kill the President of the Land of the Free.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a conviction of a man who threatened to shoot President Obama, saying that his comments were fine if he did not mean to carry them out.
The court felt that prosecutors "failed to present sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt" that the man had the intent to threaten Obama
The Judges said that if the coppers had looked at the construction of the words in his postings, it was fairly clear that they did not constitute a 'true threat,' and they are therefore protected speech under the First Amendment.
Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against a presidential candidate in comments he posted on a Yahoo.com website
The Appeals panel said that Bagdasarian's comments were "particularly repugnant" because they endorsed violence but any sane person would have twigged that he was not going to carry them out, USA Today reports.
Bagdasarian told investigators he made the mistake of posting after he had a few.
After all, who has not sunk a few lagers and claimed that a presidential candidate "will have a 50 cal in the head soon" and demand someone shot.
The panel was divided on the matter. One of the panel thought that the fear engendered by true threats limit a candidate's freedom to participate fully in the debate leading up to the election.
If prosecutors did not take such threats seriously they could ultimately deprive the US of a potential leader.