There’s that crazy first amendment thing again.
(POLITICO) Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday appeared to recalibrate remarks she made last week that suggested the Justice Department could investigate speech deemed hostile towards Muslims.
“Of course, we prosecute deeds and not words,” she said at a press conference Monday to announce an unrelated civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
Some conservatives criticized Lynch for her comments to a Muslim civil rights group, where she lamented “the ability of people to issue hateful speech of all types from the anonymity of a screen.”
Speaking to a Muslim Advocates dinner in Arlington, Va., Lynch affirmed that “this is a country that is based upon free speech.” However, she went on to suggest that the Justice Department would “take action” when such speech “edges towards violence, when we see the potential to lift…that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
First Amendment precedents generally protect speech, even hateful speech, from punishment unless the comments are intended to incite direct action against specific individuals or in a specific place.