Mumia Abu-Jamal sues Pennsylvania over new convicts gag law

Convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who's serving a life sentence, filed a lawsuit on the grounds that a new Pennsylvania law restricts convicts free-speech rights. 

Mumia Abu-Jamal and his supporters are suing to overturn a new Pennsylvania law they says violates convicts' free speech rights.

Abu-Jamal and prisoner-rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking to stop the law, which allows violent-crime victims to take legal action when an offender's conduct "perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime."

They're asking a judge to declare it unconstitutional.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed the measure into law last month saying it's designed to curb the "obscene celebrity" cultivated by convicts like Abu-Jamal, who's serving a life sentence for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

The law was prompted by Abu-Jamal's pre-recorded speech last month to graduates at Vermont's Goddard College. Abu-Jamal has drawn international support for claims he's the victim of a racist justice system.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported:

At the signing of the Revictimization Relief Act Tuesday, Governor Corbett was flanked by police officers, victims’ advocates, and Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner.

Mrs. Faulkner “has been taunted by the obscene celebrity that her husband’s killer has orchestrated from behind bars,” Corbett said. “This unrepentant cop killer has tested the limits of decency, while gullible activists and celebrities have continued to feed this killer’s ego at the expense of his victims.”

Civil liberties experts will likely challenge the law in court. “If the First Amendment means anything, it’s that government officials can’t silence people they don’t like,” says Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, in a Monitor interview. It would even apply to people who have served their sentence and been released, he says.

“We think this law is pretty clearly unconstitutional and is just a result of election-year pandering,” Mr. Walczak says. 


You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Mumia Abu-Jamal sues Pennsylvania over new convicts gag law
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today