Supreme Court says a conviction for online threats violated 1st Amendment
The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of a man who made extensive online threats to a stranger, saying free speech protections require prosecutors to prove the stalker was aware of the threatening nature of his communications.
In a 7-2 ruling with Justice Elena Kagan writing for the majority, the court emphasized that true threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. But to guard against a chilling effect on non-threatening speech, the majority said, states must prove that a criminal defendant has acted recklessly, meaning that he disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence.
The case concerned a Colorado law used to convict Billy Raymond Counterman of stalking and causing emotional distress to Coles Whalen, a singer-songwriter he had never met. Counterman, who had previously been convicted of making threats to others, served four years in prison in the Whalen case.
Whalen testified at Countermans trial, and told The Washington Post in an interview, that she was terrified by Countermans relentless pursuit. She said she never knew whether her stalker would be in the crowd at her performances. The worry affected her mental health, caused her to cancel concerts and hampered her career and even caused her for a time to give up performing, she said.
Sorry if this has already been posted.
Trump posted a picture of himself swinging a ball bat next to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's head. According to this ruling, this is now acceptable behavior. As it will be for the 84 witnesses in the docs case.
You shouldn't be allowed to threaten anybody, period. Gosh, people might be required to actually think a bit and censure their hatred.
Oh, well. It's our new reality, a USSC that can't think, either.