20 Organizations File Amicus Briefs in Support of Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht
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Twenty organizations signed onto amicus briefs in support of Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht’s petition to have his case reviewed by the US Supreme Court.

On Feb. 5, five amicus curiae briefs were filed regarding Ulbricht v. United States, which alleges that the government violated Ulbricht’s Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights during its investigation and sentencing of his case.

Each of these five “friend-of-the-court” briefs was filed in support of Ulbricht, who is currently serving a life sentence for a variety of crimes related to his administration of the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road and petitioned the Supreme Court to take up his case after an appellate court rejected his appeal last year.

In his petition, Ulbricht has asked the Supreme Court to rule whether the government can seize an individual’s internet traffic without a warrant or probable cause, as investigators did to unmask him as Silk Road operator “Dread Pirate Roberts”, which he claims was a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches.

The petition also argues that his trial judge violated his Sixth Amendment right by justifying an otherwise unreasonable sentence with information not introduced as evidence during the trial, namely that investigators believed he had attempted to pay a hitman to commit five murders — allegations which were uncharged and unproven.

The briefs — which present information related to the case but may or may not factor into the Court’s decision — attracted a combined 20 amici curiae from across the political spectrum, with filers ranging from the progressive-leaning National Lawyers Guild to the libertarian Reason Foundation and even the conservative Gun Owners of America.

As CCN reported, legal expert and SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein named Ulbricht v. United States his petition of the day on Jan. 23, a designation which indicates that he believes the case addresses constitutional questions that “have a reasonable chance of being granted in an appropriate case” but does not necessarily mean that the specific case is an “appropriate vehicle” for the Court to decide the question.

Feb. 5 had originally been the deadline for the government to respond to Ulbricht’s petition, but the Court granted Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco’s request to extend that deadline until March 7. No amicus briefs have been filed in support of the government’s position.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Josiah is a former ancient and medieval literature teacher. He has been writing about cryptocurrency since 2014, and his work has been cited in Business Insider, NPR, and Yahoo! Finance. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and son. Email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.