September 11, 2007

Media Noticing WTP’s
First Amendment Battle at Second Circuit

Following the Order by the US Court of Appeals in Manhattan blocking enforcement of the most harmful part of the August 9th injunction issued by a federal District Court Judge against WTP, and that ordered oral arguments before a substantive motions panel in Manhattan next Tuesday, both the New York Times and a prestigious, 35-year old First Amendment watchdog and legal defense organization have published stories regarding WTP’s case.

Last Tuesday, the New York Times followed up on its original story regarding the District Court's injunction with a short piece covering the Order by the Court of Appeals. The text appears below:

The New York Times

September 4, 2007

Order on Tax Evasion Site Blocked


A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked an order that the Internal Revenue Service be given the names of people who acquired materials from a Web site on how to defeat the tax laws.


The Web site,, shut down last week and posted an Aug. 9 order to do so from Thomas J. McAvoy, a senior federal judge for the Northern District of New York.


Judge McAvoy ruled that evidence showed that the Web site was inciting people to violate the tax laws. The judge found that under a 1969 Supreme Court ruling, the Web site had thus lost its First Amendment protections as either commercial or political speech.


Robert L. Schulz of Queensbury, N.Y., who operates the Web site, appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Thursday.


On Friday, Judge Peter W. Hall temporarily blocked the portion of the order requiring Mr. Schulz to turn over to the government the names and identifying details of people who had obtained information at the Web site on how to stop federal tax from being withheld from their paychecks. Judge Hall set Sept. 18 for oral arguments on the issue.

On Friday,
September 1, 2007, a First Amendment watchdog and legal defense organization called "The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press" also covered the developments in the WTP case, specifically referencing USDC Judge McAvoy's finding that WTP's Speech "incites imminent lawless action," and referring to the seminal Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio which established the legal standard for determining if such Speech can be enjoined. 

The Committee provides free legal assistance to news reporters facing litigation for their exercise of the First Amendment.  Its September 7th article about WTP can be read here. The Committee's website is

Given the importance of the numerous First Amendment issues before the Court and the difficulties the government faces in publicly defending its 6700 related "enforcement" actions against WTP, we anticipate next week's proceedings will be of enormous significance not only for the WTP organization but for the larger future of Free Speech and the First Amendment’s guarantee of the People’s Right to Petition the government for Redress of Grievances. We anticipate posting a brief web update following next week's hearing as well as an audio recording of the oral arguments.

As of today, the Government has yet to respond to WTP's motion to stay the enforcement of Judge McAvoy’s order pending the results of WTP’s appeal from that Order.