Brandon Raub


The Rutherford Institute came to the defense of a former Marine, 26-year-old Brandon Raub, who was arrested, detained indefinitely in a psych ward and forced to undergo psychological evaluations based solely on the controversial nature of lines from song lyrics, political messages and virtual card games which he posted to his private Facebook page.

Raub, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was forcibly taken from his home on August 16, 2012, by FBI agents and police in Chesterfield County, Va. and placed in a psychiatric ward against his will (watch his arrest here). His crime? Posting personal political views and song lyrics to his Facebook page. Despite this, in a hearing before a special justice, government officials disregarded Raub’s explanation that the Facebook posts were being interpreted out of context, sentencing him up to 30 days’ further confinement in a VA psych ward where he was forced to undergo psychological evaluations. 

The government’s case against Brandon Raub was dismissed on the grounds that the petition for Raub’s detainment was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

Advocating for free speech and the right to be free from wrongful arrest, Institute attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit of Raub, alleging that his seizure and detention were the result of a federal government program code-named “Operation Vigilant Eagle” that involves the systematic surveillance of military veterans who express views critical of the government. The complaint alleged that the attempt to label Raub as “mentally ill” and his subsequent involuntary commitment, clear violations of his rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments, was a pretext designed to silence speech critical of the government.

In a final blow, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, thereby refusing to establish standards to guide and constrain mental health professionals when they seek to commit individuals and to prevent commitment on the basis of a person’s exercise of his right to free speech.

“This case was about more than one Marine’s right to not be targeted for speaking out against the government. It was about whether Americans have the freedom to criticize the government without being labeled ‘domestic extremists’ and stripped of their rights,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Unfortunately, in refusing to hear this case, the Supreme Court has left us all vulnerable to the possibility that we can be declared mentally unfit, handcuffed, arrested and locked up against our will simply for exercising our right to speak truth to power.”

Case History

November 17, 2015 • U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case of Marine Brandon Raub Who Was Arrested & Locked up in a Mental Hospital for Criticizing the Gov't on Facebook

April 29, 2015 • Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine's Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts; Attorneys Plan to Appeal to Supreme Court

January 27, 2015 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on 1st Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Defends Marine's Rights

October 10, 2014 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on First Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Asks Court to Affirm Marine's Free Speech Rights

August 26, 2014 • Citing First & Fourth Amendments, Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine's Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 27, 2014 • Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reject Lower Court Dismissal & Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine's Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 03, 2014 • Rejecting Concerns Over Gov't Suppression of Dissident Speech as 'Far-Fetched', Fed. Court Dismisses Suit Over Marine's Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

August 03, 2013 • VICTORY: Federal Court Affirms 1st & 4th Amdt. Rights, Denies Gov't Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Marine's Wrongful Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

July 17, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Counters Government Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Psych Ward Detention of Marine Because of Facebook Posts

May 22, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys File Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 29, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys to File Civil Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 28, 2012 • TRI Exclusive: Marine Brandon Raub Issues First Public Comments Since Being Arrested, Detained in Psych Ward Over Views, Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 23, 2012 • VICTORY: Circuit Court Orders Brandon Raub Released, Dismisses Case Against Marine Arrested, Detained in Veterans Admin. Psych Ward over Political Views, Song Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 22, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Files Notice of Appeal Challenging Arrest & Detention of Marine in Psych Ward for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 21, 2012 • District Court Refuses to Stop Transfer of Marine Brandon Raub to Salem Psych Ward, 3 Hrs. Away, for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 20, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Defends Marine Arrested, Incarcerated in Psych Ward & Detained Indefinitely for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

Press Contact

Nisha Whitehead
(434) 978-3888 ext. 604
nisha@rutherford.org