The United States Supreme Court ruled that government couldn’t solely prosecute someone for sending an internet threat solely on how the message was perceived. The ruling results in another pro-free epxpression from the Roberts court. The Supreme Court justices ruled that the legal standard used to convict him was too low, but left open what the standard should be. It is a narrow ruling and the Court did not address the larger constitutional issue.
The decision surrounds a case of Pennsylvania man; Anthony D. Elonis who posted several violent rants on his social media account after his wife left him. He defended himself by saying he was a musician and was writing rap lyrics for therapeutic reasons to help him cope with his depression. He was convicted for violating a federal threat statute. The justices ordered a new trial for Anthony Elonis who started posting violent messages on social media in May 2010. Elonis was arrested in December 2010 and charged with violating a federal law that makes it a crime to transmit threats to injure someone else. President Obama’s administration argued that a message should be considered illegal if a normal person would consider it threatening, regardless of the sender’s intentions.
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