Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Facebook Threats

Many POMA members, outdoor industry professionals, and outdoorsmen have been the subject of threats on social media. Some so violent and graphic they make your skin crawl. The industry is so concerned that an impromptu meeting of industry representatives was held at the 2014 SHOT Show to discuss the situation and possible action.

Now, the Supreme Court of the United States is involved. On June 16, 2014 the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case involving threats made over Facebook. Is this the case the outdoor industry has been waiting for to support?

ReCode.net reported:

The Supreme Court announced plans to wade into the issue of whether you can go to jail for posting violent or threatening messages on social media sites — even when your intent to actually carry out those actions is unclear.

The court Monday said it will consider the case of Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man who was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison in 2010 for posting violent threats about killing his ex-wife and law enforcement on Facebook.

Elonis said he never intended to hurt anyone and argued his threats were clearly not meant to be taken seriously. His threatening rants often took the form of rap-style lyrics,according to the Morning Call, a local paper that has covered the case. Lower courts rejected his defense that the comments were protected under the First Amendment.

The justices plan to look into whether “as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under [federal law] requires proof of the defendant’s subjective intent to harm.”

The court will take up the case in the fall, when the justices get back from their summer break.

 

From the Supreme Court 

CERTIORARI GRANTED

 
13-983 ELONIS, ANTHONY D. V. UNITED STATES 
 
The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. In addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: "Whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U. S. C. §875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten." 
 

Review the Case on the Supreme Court Blog

 

Elonis v. United States

Docket No.Op. BelowArgumentOpinionVoteAuthorTerm
13-9833d Cir.TBDTBDTBDTBDOT 2014
 

Issue: (1) Whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten, as required by the Ninth Circuit and the supreme courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening, as held by other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort; and (2) whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U. S. C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten.