Articles

FIRST AMENDMENT IMPLICATIONS FOR E-MAIL THREATS: ARE THERE ANY FREE SPEECH PROTECTIONS?

Byline:

Joshua Azriel

Issue:

VOL. XXIII • Summer 2005 • NO. 4 (table of contents)

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Cite as:

23 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 845

Abstract:

In this article, Azriel explores how the First Amendment protects or does not provide protections to threatening e-mail communications. The article begins by examining seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases that dealt with threatening speech. The factors that provide the First Amendment protections are described, as well as the particular facts of each case and the Courtís findings. Azriel then looks at the Federal Threat Law and the factors that are enunciated in that legislation with regard to the protections afforded threatening communications, in addition to federal court cases that have interpreted the statute. The article then looks at several cases that specifically addressed potentially threatening email and Internet-based communications. Each of the factual backgrounds of these cases is described and the Courtís reasoning in deciding these cases in also provided. Finally, the reasoning of the various cases and statute is applied to a previously decided case, which shows that e-mail threats, in general are not protected, and those cases which are decided that provide for First Amendment protection of e-mail threats, are anomalous.

Author Footnote:

Joshua Azriel is a 3rd year Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. His research and scholarship focuses on the Internet and related First Amendment controversies. Mr. Azriel has a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida and has worked as a broadcast journalist.

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