U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney of southern California therefore dismissed charges against two men from the "white nationalist" Rise Above Movement (RAM) who violently clashed with members of the far-left group Antifa at three southern California pro-Trump events in 2017.
In his 35-page order, the judge stressed the importance of equal protection under the law. He said that although the two men may have been involved in violent acts, prosecutors were wrong to exclusively target them without also pursuing charges against Antifa members implicated in similar violent actions at political events.
Judge Carney wrote (pdf):
"Such selective prosecution leaves the troubling impression that the government believes speech on the left more deserving of protection than speech on the right.
"The fundamental principles of the First Amendment rights to free speech and to assemble are the "bedrock" of the United States. This is not always easy. Sometimes, people use that right to 'spread vitriolic and hateful ideas and beliefs'.
"While Defendants openly promoted ideas the Court finds reprehensible, and likely committed violence for which they deserve to be prosecuted, this case is about something more important. It is about upholding the free speech and assembly rights guaranteed to all of us.
"It does not matter who you are or what you say. It does not matter whether you are a supporter of All Lives Matter or a supporter of Black Lives Matter. It does not matter whether you are a Zionist professor or part of Students for Justice in Palestine. It does not matter whether you are a member of RAM or Antifa. All are the same under the Constitution, and all receive its protections."