In a move to defend Montana’s anti-intimidation law, Attorney General Tim Fox on Monday filed a motion in U.S. District Court to intervene in a Whitefish woman’s case against neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin.
Tanya Gersh, a Whitefish real estate agent, sued Anglin following posts he made in 2016 on his website, The Daily Stormer, calling for an “old fashioned troll storm” on Gersh and others. He posted the personal information of Gersh and others whom Anglin accused of “extorting” the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Gersh said she agreed to help Sherry Spencer, Richard Spencer’s mother, sell property she owns in Whitefish. Sherry Spencer then accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into agreeing to sell the property.
Gersh is accusing Anglin of intimidation under Montana’s anti-intimidation law. Anglin, in turn, has challenged the constitutionality of Montana’s anti-intimidation statute, claiming it violates his First Amendment rights.
Fox issued a statement, saying “the people of Montana passed the Anti-Intimidation Act to prevent the type of intimidation and threats of violence alleged in this lawsuit.
“Montanans have made it clear they support protecting each other from intimidation through the laws of our state. I took an oath to defend all laws passed by the people of Montana,” Fox said.
The relevant portion of Montana’s intimidation statute challenged by Anglin states that “an individual or organization who is attempting to exercise a legally protected right and who is injured, harassed or aggrieved by a threat or intimidation has a civil cause of action against the person engaging in the threatening or intimidating behavior.”
Montana’s anti-intimidation statute was passed in 1996 by a voter-approved ballot initiative.
Earlier this month U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch issued a finding in the case, rejecting Anglin’s argument that the lawsuit be dismissed on First Amendment grounds, and recommending Hersh be allowed to proceed with her lawsuit’s claims. The judge further stated in his May 3 ruling that Gersh “has alleged sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory by which Anglin could be held liable for the conduct of his readers,” according to an Associated Press report.