Judge Lynn Adelman

  • March 12, 2018
    Guest Post

    by the Honorable Lynn Adelman, district judge in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin

    *This piece was originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Dissent Magazine

    On November 4, 1995, Leandro Andrade walked into a K-Mart in Ontario, California, and attempted to shoplift five children’s videotapes. He was caught by a security guard and promptly arrested. Two weeks later, he walked into another K-Mart in nearby Montclair and tried to steal four more videotapes. Again, he was caught and arrested on the spot. This time, he was tried and convicted in a California state court of two counts of petty theft with a prior conviction. His sentence for stealing $153 worth of VHS tapes? Fifty years in prison.

  • July 8, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Judge Lynn Adelman and Jon Dietrich, authors of a recent article for the Harvard Law & Policy Review
    In the latest issue of the Harvard Law & Policy Review, we published Extremist Speech and the Internet: The Continuing Importance of Brandenburg. Our article, is essentially an ode to the 1969 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, which imposed a very high bar for the regulation of potentially dangerous speech. We respond to arguments that First Amendment doctrine is insufficiently flexible to deal with extremist and hate speech conveyed on the internet. We argue that Brandenburg's speech-friendly formulation has served us well and is entirely adequate to deal with internet communication. In particular, Brandeburg prohibits punishment for the advocacy of the use of force or violation of the law except when "such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

    We point out that the internet is a typical example of how technological advances in communication have caused people to become uneasy about broad protections for speech. This goes back to the invention of the printing press. We argue that there is nothing about the transmission of information via the internet which requires that weakening of the robust protection of speech afforded by Brandenburg. We discuss cases in which the Brandenburg standard has protected internet speech, and we show on a more general level how Brandenburg's distinction between advocacy and speech clearly likely to lead to imminent harm has benefitted our society.