Assault On Free Speech

Ross’s libertarian beliefs were forbidden to be mentioned at trial. After all, his political philosophy supports Ross’ claim that he designed and created the Silk Road site as a free market experiment that protected the privacy of users, not a drug market.

Yet after banning this from trial, at sentencing Judge Forrest spotlighted DPR’s libertarian writings and the site’s political philosophy, including the unattributed statement on the forum that the U.S government was the enemy. She said she found this “deeply troubling” and “very dangerous”.

The judge also stated: “It is also notable that the reasons that you started Silk Road were philosophical and I don’t know that it is a philosophy left behind.”

Clearly Ross’ sentence was, in part, based on political thought and speech. Using such considerations for a sentence is strongly counter to the First Amendment.

This was argued in the Petition for Panel rehearing [PDF], but denied by the Appellate court on Aug. 29, 2017.