posted at 19:50
Author Name: Chantal Valery
US top court debates if online death threats are free speech
It will be the first time the top court's nine justice - who are not known to have Facebook accounts of their own - will consider the limits of First Amendment protections on free speech on social media. The Supreme Court will decide whether Elonis's comments constitute a "True threat," or were harmless because he did not intend to act on his words, as he argued. Several anti-domestic violence groups have weighed in with briefs in support of the government's position as the case goes before the top court. The court has considered cases involving new technologies, including GPS, mobile phones and video games, but has never ruled on freedom of speech rights on social media. Law professor Steven Schwinn says that under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has consistently acted to protect the right to free expression. "When it comes to these types of low-value - even harmful - speech, the Roberts court has been clear: if you don't like the speech, speak out against it; but government cannot ban it." Law professor William Marshall from the University of North Carolina agrees that in previous cases the court has shown a commitment to protecting freedom of expression, even on the Internet. The Supreme Court is "Very pre-disposed to protect the First Amendment and free speech in modern media and the popular culture," Marshall said.

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