Amicus brief from The Onion — America’s finest news source

A guy posted a harshly satirical, arguably not very funny, send up of his local police force on Facebook, a post he later took down.   He was arrested and locked up, later released, the charges dropped.  He sued the police department in federal court for retaliatory arrest in violation of his First Amendment right to say pretty much anything he fucking chooses.  Key to his suit is that parody, even if it is crap, even if it is disgusting, fly-covered crap with no redeeming value as humor, has long been protected by the Supreme Court.  The amateur parodist lost and appealed. 

The appellate court ruled, with the arrogance of those defending the absolute prerogatives of law enforcement no matter what (except when they are libtard cucks protecting an illegitimate Congress)  “There’s no recognized right to be free from a retaliatory arrest that is supported by probable cause.” The appeal is now under review as a possible Supreme Court case.  The Onion weighed in with probably the best amicus brief ever written.

The entire brief, which begins with The Onion’s origin story as a humble paper in 1756 growing to the world’s most influential website with 4.3 trillion daily visitors and 350,000 employees, is on the Supreme Court website.  It is brilliant, funny, cutting, mocking and so sensible it will bring tears to your eyes for several reasons.  It is the most readable and entertaining legal filling you will ever encounter.

Here are a few of their more serious points.

Parodists can take apart an authoritarian’s cult of personality, point out the rhetorical tricks that politicians use to mislead their constituents, and even undercut a government institution’s real-world attempts at propaganda. Farah, 736 F.3d at 536 (noting that the point of parody is to “censure the vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings of an individual or society”) (cleaned up). . .

. . . see also Golb v. Att’y Gen. of N.Y., 870 F.3d 89, 102 (2d Cir. 2017) (“[A] parody enjoys First Amendment protection notwithstanding that not everybody will get the joke.”). 

And the “reasonable reader” is “ ‘no dullard. He or she does not represent the lowest common denominator, but reasonable intelligence and learning. He or she can tell the difference between satire and sincerity.’ ” New Times, Inc. v. Isaacks, 146 S.W.3d 144, 157 (Tex. 2004) (quoting Patrick v. Sup. Ct., 27 Cal. Rptr. 2d 883, 887 (Ct. App. 1994)). “Nor is the reasonable person some totally humorless drudge who cannot perceive the presence of subtle invective.” Patrick, 27 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 887. Instead, the reasonable reader’s perspective “is more informed by an assessment of her well-considered view than by her immediate yet transitory reaction,” particularly “in light of the special characteristics of satire,” which leverage that transitory reaction for rhetorical effect. Farah, 736 F.3d at 536. 

The clincher, for me, subtle and sweet, is citing, toward the end, the powerful appellate court judge, Alex Kozinski, who was Boof Kavanaugh’s rabbi, steered him to his Supreme Court clerkship and maintained a listserve of pornographic jokes for his clerks and former clerks that he (and Boof) denied the existence of.  Kozinski later resigned from the federal bench for unrelated reasons (accusations from many women of gross sexual harassment, unwanted touching and forcible kissing).

“ ‘[T]he last thing we need, the last thing the First Amendment will tolerate, is a law that lets public figures keep people from mocking them.’ ” Cardtoons, L.C. v. Major League Baseball Players Ass’n, 95 F.3d 959, 972–73 (10th Cir. 1996) (quoting White v. Samsung Elecs. Am., Inc., 989 F.2d 1512, 1519 (9th Cir. 1993) (Kozinski, J., dissenting)).