Will Madonna Face Arrest for Her “Blow up the White House” Comments?

Madonna sparked a furor January 21 when, speaking at the Women’s March on Washington, the singer revealed thoughts of “blowing up the White House.” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a longtime ally of Donald Trump, called for her arrest January 23, calling her remarks part of “an emerging left-wing fascism:”

Later, conservative blog Gatewaypundit quoted unsourced Secret Service spokesman stating that the agency would be opening an investigation into the singer’s comments. While a separate agent commenting on similar statements stated that an investigation into such comments “always” happens, case law and the opinions of several First Amendment attorneys suggest that the comment is protected free speech.

Watts v. United States in 1969 established the threshold for threats, particularly those against the President, to lie beyond the scope of First Amendment protection. Watts, an 18-year-old attending a Vietnam War protest, was told he should “get an education” before speaking up, and responded:

They always holler at us to get an education. And now I have already received my draft classification as 1-A and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is L. B. J.

He was found to have violated a law against threatening the President. After a lengthy round of appeals, The Supreme Court held that the “willfulness” requirement of the law can only be met by proving the intention of the speaker to carry out his or her threat. Madonna immediately disavowed the idea following the phrase at issue, claiming it “won’t change anything,”  casting doubt on any sincere attempt to take her words as a true threat.

Lawyer Ken White, who writes on First Amendment and criminal defense issues, stated briefly on Twitter via @Popehat that the answer to the controversy was obvious:

Madonna, for her part, stated she was “taken out of context,” and that she intended to present “two ways of looking at things,” sharing both love and anger.

43 Comments

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43 Comments

Anonymous

20 Years in a work camp should be the minimum. She was clearly trying to incite a mob to assassinate the president. That’s called sedition and treason.

cowbulls

Madonna needs to be arrested and put on trial. What happens if some lunatic tries to blow up the White House trying to be a hero to her? Words mean Things. A clear example needs to be set that this type comments will not be tolerated. I would have said the exact same thing if some right wing nut job had said the same thing 6 months ago.

Anonymous

So it’s seems like anyone in the world can say this…And it’s OK. Is that what they are saying????

lisawhitefern

It would be a waste of time to arrest her, because she didn’t make a real threat, and her defense lawyer would easily win any case against her because was clearly not a genuine threat. In fact she only said she thought about it and then said it wouldn’t be the right choice. Did you read the article?

Michael

The rich, famous, and stupid are treated with tender loving care . Only us peasants can do wrong.

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