Lawsuit challenging ‘Revictimization Relief Act’ goes to Federal Court

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It’s been more than five months since former Governor Tom Corbett signed the Revictimization Relief Act.

Under the law, criminals can be sued if their public speech causes pain to victims of those crimes.

On Monday morning a judge will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit seeking to block the enforcement of it.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit, Prison Legal News vs. Kane, back in the fall claiming the law, which they refer to as the ‘silencing act,’ is a major violation of the First Amendment.

The Revictimization Relief Act was passed shortly after a convicted cop killer gave a commencement speech to graduates at a Vermont college in October 2014.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently severing a 60 year prison sentence for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer back in 1981.

His pre-recordered speech outraged lawmakers and members of the community, including the officer’s family.

Corbett said this law gives victims and their families the ability to heal and is designed to curb the “obscene celebrity” created by high profile criminals.

Under this law, the Attorney General, District Attorney or victim’s representative could ask a judge to prohibit an offender from engaging in any speech that would cause further pain or anguish to a victim.

The ACLU of PA is challenging this law, arguing that it stifles the free speech rights of thousands of individuals and organizations.

Their lawsuit has been filed on behalf of journalists, news outlets, advocacy groups and community leaders who were formerly incarcerated.

Oral arguments are scheduled to get underway at 10:00 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

Both sides will present their case to the judge who will then consider the arguments before making a final decision.