The Onion tells the Supreme Court – seriously – that satire is no laughing matter

The Onion – a publication best known for its tongue-in-cheek, satirical postings on politics and world events – has taken the very serious step of filing an amicus brief before the Supreme Court.

It is wading into legal advocacy by asking the high court to hear a case about an Ohio man who was arrested and later acquitted for creating a fake Facebook page that looked nearly identical to a local police department’s site.

“Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government? This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team,” the site’s lawyers wrote.

Indeed, The Onion said the headlines surrounding this case seemed like they were ripped off the front pages of its own publication.

The Onion’s amicus brief is itself written in a very tongue-in-cheek, satirical way, though its ultimate aim is genuine – to convince the Supreme Court to take up the case involving free speech and qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that largely shields law enforcement officers from constitutional claims and one that the justices have largely avoided questioning in recent cases.

“The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks,” the brief says.

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