A U.S. court declined to intervene in the firing of a former New Jersey poet laureate who suggested that Israel had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Then-New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey rescinded Amiri Baraka’s appointment in 2003, following an uproar sparked by the poet’s reading of “Somebody Blew Up America.” Baraka’s work included the lines, “Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day?/Why did Sharon stay away?”Baraka sued, claiming free speech rights.In a 2-1 ruling, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deemed McGreevey’s actions legislative, not political, and therefore immune from the issue of free speech. The court also decided that Baraka was not owed any money for losing his $10,000 appointment, as the funds had never been earmarked by the state legislature.
SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING