CV NEWS FEED // A federal judge ruled in favor of a man who made satirical memes poking fun at then-candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
The ruling temporarily stayed conservative social media user Douglass Mackey’s seven-month prison sentence for “election interference,” pending appeal.
“The District Court is ordered to determine the appropriate terms of release, without prejudice to the government’s making a future request for detention, on behalf of Appellant Douglass Mackey,” stated the court’s Motion Order. “It is further ordered that this appeal is expedited.”
Connecticut-based federal District Court Judge Omar A. Williams signed the order, which further stated:
Mackey’s initial brief will be due on or before January 5, 2024. The government’s response will be due on or before February 5, 2024. Mackey’s reply brief will be due on or before February 20, 2024. The Clerk is directed to calendar this appeal as soon as practicable after February 20, 2024.
Mackey commented publicly on the order Monday. “This ruling is huge because it means that the appeals court decided that my appeal presents ‘substantial’ and ‘debatable’ issues of law that, if resolved in my favor, will result in my conviction being vacated,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
“The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that my appeal was frivolous and that this was a typical election crime case like any other in U.S. history,” he added. “This is a very encouraging step towards vindication.”
“Mackey said if he loses the appeal in the Second Circuit, he intends to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court,” reported The Daily Wire.
New York-based federal District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly initially sentenced Mackey in October. The Daily Wire indicated that in addition to prison time, Mackey was also given “a $15,000 fine, and two years probation.”
The Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) cited the 34-year-old Florida man’s purported “role in a conspiracy to interfere with potential voters’ right to vote in the 2016 election for the Office of the President of the United States.”
The DOJ went on to categorize the meme Mackey posted as “deceptive” and an “ad,” stating:
On November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign.
The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.” The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton.
“On or about and before Election Day 2016, thousands of unique telephone numbers texted ‘Hillary’ or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators,” the DOJ claimed.
The Daily Wire noted that “it’s unclear how many people, if anyone, fell for the meme and did not cast the vote they intended to cast; or were merely participating in the joke.”
According to The Post Millennial, Mackey was first arrested about a week after President Biden took office – more than four years after he posted the controversial meme.
Hillary Clinton herself welcomed his arrest, stating that she believed the image was not “free speech.” Instead, Clinton alleged that the meme-maker was “running a very deliberate effort to mislead people about where and how to vote.”
“It went from speech to action meant to subvert the election, because thousands of people who they targeted through their algorithms [said] ‘oh I could text my vote for Hillary Clinton,’” the defeated candidate claimed at the time.
Shortly after Mackey’s October sentencing, Billy Binion of the libertarian magazine Reason highlighted an apparent double standard when it comes to the federal government prosecuting individuals for so-called “election interference.”
Binion referred to the very similar case of Kristina Wong, a far-left activist who self-styles herself as a comedian:
On the morning of November 8, 2016—Election Day—[Wong] tweeted a video of herself decked out in Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” red baseball cap, sitting in front of “Make America Great Again” yard signs, encouraging a familiar, yet inverted, refrain. “I just want to remind all my fellow Chinese Americans for Trump, people of color for Trump, to vote,” she said. “Vote for Trump.”
The video came with a caption: “Skip poll lines at #Election2016 and TEXT in your vote!” Wong said. “Text votes are legit. Or vote tomorrow on Super Wednesday!”
“Wong has not faced criminal charges, nor should she,” Binion noted. “The thought of the FBI devoting time to investigating her for a silly tweet is ludicrous and an insult to the taxpayers that fund the agency.”
“The notion that she’d spend time in prison for it defies parody,” he added. “And yet there is someone whose reality is exactly that.”