Free speech or illegal threats? Justices could say

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court could decide as early as Monday whether to clarify the First Amendment rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook, in emails and other electronic media.

The justices are considering taking up two cases where defendants were convicted of making illegal threats despite claims they never meant any harm.

A Pennsylvania man in one case posted rap lyrics ranting about his estranged wife, law enforcement and former co-workers.

The other case involves a Florida woman who emailed a radio station threats about guns and schools.

Lower courts said they could be found guilty if an objective person understood the messages as threats. But lawyers for the defendants -- along with some free-speech groups -- say it should depend on the speaker's state of mind.


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