A former U.S. Justice Department attorney says the Left is proving why the First Amendment trumps the power of the federal government.
"If I want to go on national television and say things about Muslims that edge toward violence," says J. Christian Adams, "I have every right to do so under the First Amendment."
Adams is responding to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who told a gathering of Muslims that she fears anti-Muslim "rhetoric" after the Dec. 2 San Bernardino attacks by a Muslim husband and wife. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded 21 others.
Lynch told the Muslim Advocates dinner that America is "based on free speech," but when that speech "edges toward violence," the Department of Justice "will take action."
As U.S. attorney general, Lynch is the most powerful law enforcement official in the country, and media reports suggest she was referring to "hateful speech" from a "screen," likely referring to computers via the Internet.
But the true legal test, Adams tells OneNewsNow, is "whether something is an imminent and real threat of violence, not something that edges toward it."
Lynch's suggestion, he says, is what our country's Founders feared.
"It's why we have a First Amendment," Adams, a former DOJ whistleblower, says.
"Free speech protects speech with which you disagree," comments Liberty Counsel attorney Matt Staver. "And there is no exception for Islam or no exception for Mohammad."
Staver questions if Lynch and the Department of Justice would be willing to prosecute someone who claims the Koran calls for violent attacks against infidels and forced conversion to Islam.
To say such a statement is "hate speech" is wrong and irresponsible, says Staver, who suspects the attorney general's most likely motive is to chill free speech.
Days after speaking to the Muslim group, news website Politico reported that Lynch "recalibrated" those remarks and claimed the Department of Justice prosecutes "deeds and not words."
Even though Lynch has said she's fearful of anti-Muslim backlash after the San Bernardino massacre, Politico says the attorney general has also said she's "unsure" what motivated the husband and wife to gun down his co-workers.
The Department of Justice, she said, is "not prepared to limit any particular ideology to what may have inspired these individuals."