The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has become an endless source of both headlines and gallows humor of late and yesterday was no exception. Apparently having grown tired of attempting to thwart the President’s initiatives on immigration and despite being smacked down by the Supreme Court on review, the judges on Tuesday went one step further and began striking down (or at least weakening) federal immigration law. Parts of Title 8, Chapter 12 dealing with harboring or encouraging illegal aliens had been challenged by open borders supporters and the Ninth Circuit had no problem wholeheartedly supporting their objections. (Washington Times)

A U.S. appeals court struck down a federal immigration law Tuesday that opponents warned could be used to criminalize a wide range of statements involving illegal immigration.

The law made it a felony for someone to encourage an immigrant to enter or live in the U.S. if the person knew either act is illegal.

The law violates the First Amendment because it criminalizes a substantial amount of protected speech, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

The statute, for example, would make it illegal for a grandmother to urge her grandson to ignore limits on his visa by encouraging him to stay in the U.S., Judge A. Wallace Tashima said.

Tashima, who was originally nominated as a District Court judge by Jimmy Carter and later elevated to the Ninth Circuit by Bill Clinton, seems to be taking an overly broad view of the free speech issue. Certainly, the First Amendment protects even the most unpopular speech and opinions, but it’s long been established that there are limits to that right.

What’s under discussion here is not an airing of opinions or debate of an issue. It’s an example of incitement to engage in criminal behavior. We already have similar laws on the books and have for ages. Laws covering Incitement to Riot (under Title 18) draw clear distinctions between “urging or instigating other persons” (which is illegal) and “advocacy of ideas or expressions of belief, not involving advocacy of any act” (which is not illegal).

Similarly, Title 8, Chapter 12 deals with a highly specific band of speech (as attorneys for the government described it in this hearing) which follows the same pattern. It defines the conduct as applying to any person who, “encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.” Nobody is being arrested for any advocacy of ideas or expressions of belief. The law deals with incitement of people to commit a crime.

But it seems doubtful that any of this is what was on Judge Tashima’s mind. This looks very much like another direct broadside aimed at the White House. Come on, man. Isn’t it time to break up this sprawling circuit court and absorb it into some others? The Ninth Circuit is just becoming a joke at this point. It’s looking more like a government sanctioned arm of the #Resist movement than part of the judicial branch.

Now the Supreme Court will need to be dragged into yet another debacle coming from the left coast. Hopefully, clearer heads will prevail there.