A fortnight ago, chiropractor Chris Nelson thrust himself into the national spotlight with a series of awful posts on the Facebook page of Labor Senator, Nova Peris. Nelson denied making the posts himself. He has since been charged with the offence of using a carriage service in an offensive way under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, which is punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
In this article for the AUSPUBLAW blog, I examine whether this offence provision is constitutional. The Constitution does not protect the racist Facebook posts per se, but the offence which criminalised Nelson’s conduct arguably imposes an impermissible burden on the constitutionally protected freedom of political communication.