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It might be tempting to fire off angry emails to politicians you despise. But a federal court ruling in California this month should warn of the potential consequences.

Howard Weiss, a Bay Area resident, was indicted in 2020 for allegedly using anonymous emails to threaten and harass Sen. Mitch McConnell, the former Senate majority leader, in 2018 and 2019.

The case has gone back and forth. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a ruling that Weiss can be charged with threatening or harassing McConnell through email, after the original decision was tossed in 2020.

The case is one of several in federal courts testing how far citizens can go in expressing their distaste — and even hatred — of elected officials. Weiss, at least in the opinion of the appeals court, crossed a line.

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