Did You Know it’s Illegal to Say You Wanna Kill Your Wife… or is it?

June 23, 2015     / /

Chief Justice Roberts announcing opinion in Facebook threat posting case.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled on a controversial social media case in reversing the conviction of Anthony Douglas Elonis, leaving the issue of cyber threats still up in the air. It all started when Mr. Elonis’ wife of seven years, decided to leave him and pursue a divorce from Mr. Elonis. Thereafter, Mr. Elonis took his frustrations out on the popular social media website “Facebook.” These frustrations were expressed on Facebook under the guise of an alter ego created by Mr. Elonis called “Tone Dougie.” The posts were self-styled rap lyrics containing graphically violent language and imagery concerning his wife, co-workers, a kindergarten class, and state and federal law enforcement.

One example of the posts stated, “Um, but what’s interesting is that it’s very illegal to say I really, really think someone out there should kill my wife . . . . But not illegal to say with a mortar launcher. Because that’s its own sentence.” Followed by “Little Agent lady stood so close Took all the strength I had not to turn the b**** ghost Pull my knife, flick my wrist, and slit her throat Leave her bleedin’ from her jugular in the arms of her partner. . . ” in reference to one of the FBI agents who eventually arrested Mr. Elonis.

Mr. Elonis was originally convicted under a negligence standard. The Court held that he had to have a “guilty mind” and mere negligence wasn’t enough. The Courts 7-2 decision reversed and remanded to decide what happens to the Defendant.

The Supreme Court still has several landmark rulings to announce before the current session comes to a close. The two most blockbuster cases remaining are the Obamacare subsidies case (King v. Burwell) and the Same-Sex Marriage case (Obergefell v. Hodges).

By: Matthew Watson

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