The 9th circuit Federal Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a man who posted internet messages threatening President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Walter Bagdasarian was convicted in 2009 of two felony counts of threatening a major presidential candidate. Bagdasarian posted several messages to a Yahoo Finance message board, including one that called Obama a racial epithet and another that said “he will have a 50 cal in the head soon”–a reference to a .50 caliber gun.
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A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that violent and racist creeds against Obama were “repugnant” but not criminal. The court also said it was obvious the San Diego man wasn’t planning to attack the candidate and that the postings were protected by Bagdasarian’s free speech rights.