A Pennsylvania man has been indicted for sending an e-mail to Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning as a result of his efforts to stop a vote on extending unemployment benefits last February.
His crime may have been filling out a contact form on the Senator's website, incorrectly identifying himself as "Bruce from Louisville" in an effort to appear to be one of the Senator's constituents. He claims he didn't directly identify the Senator as crazy, but allegedly said ""ARE you'all insane," even though Bunning probably qualifies personally for that term. It is impossible to determine from the indictment what the man did, since the U.S. Attorney only quoted the vague language of the statute in the indictment.
There are two problems here: One is the basic due process right to be given knowledge of the charges against you, which we can't determine from the indictment. The other is the Constitutional right to "petition the government for redress of grievances", one of the rights granted by the First Amendment. It would be nice if the public could look at the indictment and actually determine what defendant is alleged to have done.
It will be interesting to see what the e-mails actually said. As for calling "Bunning" crazy, truth should be his defense. Age age 79, with an approval rating under 30%, he decided not to run again in 2010 because he couldn't raise enough money to fund his campaign.