My guess is that the egregious Shepherd Express, (the wrong Shepherd in town), will be so excited over Scott Jensen's sentence. Joel McNally was outraged over the sentences handed down to those young scions of artistocratic lines whose only "crime" was to gently liberate a little air from the tires of the vans that were probably going to be used by Republicans to round up Latino voters and dump them in Nuevo Leon. Anyway.
Expect him to sound like Belling when it comes to Jensen.
The Jensen verdict and sentence should, however should trouble civil libertarians for at least three reasons.
The first is that what Jensen did was not clearly defined as a crime before he did it. Generally, when we seek to impose criminal liability on someone, we want them to have a sufficiently malevolent heart or, to use the fancy law term, mens rea. We want them to have done more than guessed wrong or failed to pay attention. They don't necessarily have to know that their conduct was criminal, but, as a general matter, we want to be able to say that they should have known.
Jensen (and, for that matter, Chwala) challenged the charges against him on, essentially, these grounds. He lost in the trial court and in the court of appeals. When the case got to the Supreme Court, the Justices split, 2-2, with three not participating. A tie goes to the lower court, but the point is that as many Supreme Court justices as not thought that the application of the criminal statute to him was unconstitutionally vague and violated principles of due process and fair notice. As I blogged recently, you might almost as easily applied the statute to agencies who lobby on legislation that might affect the jobs of those who work for them.
Second, Jensen got a lot more time than the guys who plead guilty to the same offence. That's not surprising, but isn't it troubling? Conservatives hate plea bargaining because they think it lets the perp off the hook. In my introductory Criminal Law class, Alan Dershowitz filled our impressionable little minds with the liberal objection to plea bargaining. It punishes you for insisting upon your right to a trial.
Third, the idea that other people did the same thing without getting charged is generally not a good defense. But it has special meaning when it comes to political offenses. To charge some and not others is to interfere in the political process. It is to mess around with the playing field.