Overview

The United States Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas for seeking the identities of online commenters who anonymously criticized the US Attorney's Office in a high-profile and controversial tax case. The ACLU of Nevada initiated an action on behalf of “DOE” clients challenging the constitutionality of the subpoenas.  Read more>>

Why Is the ACLU of Nevada Concerned?

The ACLU of Nevada believes that subpoenas seeking to unmask the government’s critics constitute an abuse of the U.S. Attorney’s grand jury power. Neither of the comments are ‘true threats’ and thus they are protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, anonymous political speech is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect. The ACLU believes that releasing information about anonymous commenters has a drastic chilling effect on free speech.  Read more>>

News & Updates

- November 2, 2009 - The ACLU of Nevada filed a notice of appeal of Judge Dawson's ruling ("Subpoena decision appealed ACLU: 'Fishing expedition' should be unconstitutional", Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/3/09)

- September 29, 2009 - Judge Dawson dismissed the ACLU’s motion to quash the subpoenas as “moot”. The ACLU of Nevada is disappointed by the ruling dismissing the case and is planning to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. ("Judge Dismisses ACLU Motion to Block Subpoena of Review-Journal" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/29/09. " Inquiry into Web Remarks Continues, Federal Judge Says" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/30/09)

- September 29, 2009 - Judge Dawson unsealed the final document that the government filed out of the public eye. The ACLU is pleased with Judge Dawson’s decisions making the case documents available to the public and to both sides.

- August 18, 2009 - Judge Dawson ruled that the government’s filings should be available to the public - not kept secret."KAHRE TAX TRIAL: Judge unseals U.S. attorney files: ACLU case involves subpoenas of newspaper" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/19/09)

- August 8, 2009 - Judge Dawson decided not to recuse himself from the case. ("Judge decides not to remove self from subpoena case" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/13/09)

- June 22, 2009 - The ACLU of Nevada filed an amended motion to intervene showing that even the comments sought by the second, narrowed subpoena are protected speech. ("ACLU files motion, urges different judge in case of readers' online comments" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/23/09)

- June 16, 2009 - United States Attorneys Office replaced their original subpoena with a narrower request seeking information about two comments. The Review-Journal complied with this subpoena. ("U.S. prosecutors narrow subpoena: Information on two R-J Web site posts sought" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/17/09."ACLU Urges R-J Not to Reveal Those Who Commented Online" Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/18/09 )

- June 16, 2009 - ACLU of Nevada files motion to quash the subpoenas and is asking for a protective order prohibiting the use of any information obtained from them

- June 2, 2009 - The United States Attorneys Office issues their first subpoena seeking information about each and every commenter to an article about the case posted on the Review-Journal’s website. The Review-Journal refused to comply with this subpoena. 

- May 26, 2009 - The Las Vegas Review-Journal runs the story "Employer's gold, silver payroll standard may bring hard time" on its website. The story sparks a flurry of comments criticizing the United States Attorney's Office and the United States tax policy.