Supreme Court protects threats made on Facebook

Supreme Court protects threats made on Facebook

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Supreme Court
Supreme Court

Supreme Court protects threats made on Facebook

USA Today , USAToday.com 9:31 a.m. CT June 1, 2015

(USA Today) WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck another blow for free speech Monday, ruling that threats made over the Internet are protected unless they are malevolent or reckless.

The decision was a temporary victory for Anthony Elonis and those like him whose threatening words on Facebook or similar social media sites may instill fear in their targets. But it was a defeat for the government and groups that defend victims of domestic violence.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision for a near-unanimous court. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, and Justice Samuel Alito dissented in part.

Elonis was 27 and recently unemployed in Pennsylvania five years ago when he began posting threats against his estranged wife and others, from a generic kindergarten class to the FBI agents who came to his door. He was convicted on four counts of transmitting threats and sentenced to 44 months in prison. He completed his term a year ago.

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