Federal case against neo-Nazi to go to trial next week
Judge puts aside First Amendment issues for now.
By Laurence Hammack
A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss charges against a white supremacist, setting the stage for a trial that will determine whether the man’s hate-filled rants were free speech or illegal threats.
William A. White, commander of the Roanoke-based American National Socialist Workers Party, is scheduled to go on trial starting next week in U.S. District Court.
After hearing defense arguments today that White’s e-mails and online postings were protected by the First Amendment, Judge James Turk denied a motion to dismiss the charges.
"I think the indictment is sufficient to go to trial," Turk said. "It may not be sufficient to go to a jury."
The judge’s comments suggest that after federal prosecutors put on their case against White, he might reconsider whether the neo-Nazi’s actions amounted to true threats, which are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.
White is charged with using e-mail, the telephone and his now defunct Web site to threaten about a half-dozen people across the country, usually after they said or did something that offended his racist beliefs.