CHESTERFIELD, VA— In his first public remarks since being arrested and detained in a psychiatric ward for posting controversial song lyrics and political views on his Facebook page, Marine veteran Brandon Raub speaks on camera with attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, about the events leading up to his arrest by FBI, Secret Service agents and local police and involuntary civil commitment. Rutherford Institute attorneys secured Raub’s release on Aug. 23 after Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett dismissed the government’s case against Raub on the grounds that its petition for involuntary commitment “is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” Since coming to Raub’s defense, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by military veterans across the country recounting similar incidents. More than 20,000 civil commitments were carried out in Virginia in 2011.
The Rutherford Institute’s interview with Brandon Raub is available here.
“Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans—especially military veterans—for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead. “As we are learning, Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be arrested with no warning, targeted for doing nothing more than speaking out against the government, detained against his will, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys. My fear is that he will not be the last. Truly, these are the kinds of things that take place in totalitarian societies.”
Brandon Raub, a former Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was detained by FBI agents and police officers at his home in Chesterfield County based upon the nature of content posted to his Facebook page in recent months. Like many Facebook users, Raub uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions, as well as engage in virtual online games with other users. On Thursday, August 16, 2012, police and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home, asking to speak with him about his Facebook posts. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials then handcuffed Raub and transported him first to the police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will due to alleged concerns that his Facebook posts were “terrorist in nature.” Outraged onlookers filmed the arrest and posted the footage to YouTube.
In a hearing on August 20, government officials again pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the sole reason for their concern and for his continued incarceration. Ignoring Raub’s explanations about the fact that the FB posts were being read out of context, a Special Justice sentenced the Marine to up to 30 days’ further confinement in a psychiatric ward and signed a court order for Raub’s involuntary admission to the Veterans Hospital in Salem. In coming to Raub’s defense, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute challenged the actions of Chesterfield County, Va. as procedurally improper, legally unjustified, and in violation of Raub’s First Amendment rights. On August 23, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett declared the government’s case to be lacking in factual allegations and ordered Raub immediately released.
Anthony Troy and Brian Fowler, attorneys with Troutman Sanders LLP, were instrumental in assisting The Rutherford Institute to secure Raub’s release.