Court Throws Out Conviction for Facebook Threats

The Supreme Court on Monday threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man prosecuted for making threats on Facebook, but dodged the free-speech issues that had made the case intriguing to First Amendment advocates. Chief Justice John Roberts said it was not enough for prosecutors to show that the comments of Anthony Elonis about killing his ex-wife and harming others would make a reasonable person feel threatened. But the high court sent the case back to the lower court without clarifying exactly what the standard of proof should be. The ruling was a narrow victory for civil liberties groups that had urged the court to make it tougher to convict people who make crude comments on social media that might be viewed as threatening. Elonis, of Freemansburg, in eastern Pennsylvania, was prosecuted under a law that makes it a crime to threaten another person after he posted Facebook rants in the form of rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife, harming law enforcement officials and shooting up a school.



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