‘The Onion’ filed a real brief with the Supreme Court supporting man jailed for making fun of cops

When was the last time you read an amicus brief? Unless you’re a lawyer, chances are you’ve never spent valuable time reading one. This Amicus Brief (PDF) could change that. It was submitted by The onion, which describes itself in its short description as “the world’s leading news publication” with “4.3 trillion” readers that “maintains a superior standard of excellence that the rest of the industry aspires to”. In addition to running a very successful news publication, The onion said it “owns and operates the majority of the world’s transoceanic shipping lanes, leads the nation in deforestation and open-pit mining, and proudly tests millions of animals every day.” Oh, and his motto is “Tu stultus es.” That’s “You’re stupid” in Latin.

The onion, of course, is the popular parody website that once named Kim Jong-un the Sexiest Man Alive. His team has filed a very real amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of Anthony Novak, who was arrested and jailed for four days after briefly running a Facebook page in 2016 that parodied the Parma, Ohio Police Department.

Corresponding The Washington Times, Novak had hinted in about half a dozen posts within 12 hours of the page going live that the cops were racist and lacked compassion. The Parma Police Department at the time claimed that people were mistaking their posts for real law enforcement information. Novak filed a civil lawsuit against the officers who arrested him and the city of Parma, arguing that his constitutional rights were being violated. After a federal appeal ruled that the officers were protected by so-called “qualified immunity” from prosecution, he took the fight to the Supreme Court.

Although the briefing is written in the same voice that uses its publication and is filled with outlandish claims and hilarious banter, The onion made a very real argument to defend the use of parody and explain how it works:

“Put simply, for the parody to work, it must plausibly mimic the original. The Sixth Circuit’s decision in this case would make First Amendment protections for parodies conditional on parodists expressly saying in advance that their work is nothing more than elaborate fiction, but that would deprive the parody of exactly what makes them work.

The Onion cannot stand idly by a judgment that threatens to gut a millennia-old form of rhetoric that is particularly effective in the arena of political debate and which, incidentally, forms the basis of the authors of The Onion’ paychecks.”

As Bloomberg notes that Supreme Court justices have yet to decide whether to hear the case.

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https://www.engadget.com/the-onion-amicus-brief-supreme-court-050425219.html?src=rss ‘The Onion’ filed a real brief with the Supreme Court supporting man jailed for making fun of cops

Russell Falcon

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