Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Should Supreme Court Justices be more tech savvy?

After reading Michelle Olsen's post on the Facebook case coming up, where the briefs have to describe what FB is, query whether these Justices know enough to be ruling on such questions:

The petition includes a rudimentary description of Facebook, a subtle recognition of the justices’ admitted lack of online savvy: Users have “a home page on which the user can post comments, photos, and links to other websites.” They “may become ‘friends’ with other users.”
Justice Elena Kagan has said that the justices do not even use email.

Here's the question involved in this specific case:

A man convicted of making threats using Facebook has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve a circuit split over what constitutes a “true threat.”
Under the pseudonym “Tone Dougie,” Anthony Douglas Elonis posted violent content on Facebook about his wife and others, often in the form of rap lyrics.
Elonis was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), which makes it a federal crime to transmit “any threat to injure the person of another” in interstate commerce. There are comparable state laws.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected Elonis’ appeal.
In February, the University of Virginia School of Law’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic filed a petition for certiorari on behalf of Elonis. John Elwood, a Vinson & Elkins partner and clinic instructor, is the counsel of record. Elwood is also a former assistant to the solicitor general and clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The brief in opposition is due April 21, so the justices could act soon on the petition.
Virginia v. Black, a 2003 Supreme Court opinion about cross burning, held that when a “speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals,” that is a true threat (emphasis added). Such threats are not protected speech under the First Amendment.
The petition outlines a split among federal courts of appeals and state high courts over Black’s true threat definition. One interpretation focuses on the speaker, while the other focuses on the speaker and the listener.
Does the phrase “means to communicate” require that the speaker subjectively intend a threat, or is it enough that the message sent comes across objectively as a threat?


Anonymous said...

What a minute...if I tell a lawyer who is fucking with me on a discovery is sure that I am going to kick his ass...i have committed a federal crime? Fuck me.

Anonymous said...

That's what their law clerks are for!

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/battle-over-ashes-of-john-goodman-crash-victim-pla/nfT2C/?ecmp=pbp_social_facebook_2014_sfp THE WORLD'S WORST PARENTS OF THE CENTURY AWARD GOES TO YOUR CLIENT'S VICTIM. NOW WHAT?

Fake Alex Michaels said...

Tell me about it.

Anonymous said...

It is unreasonable to expect justcies, or judges in general, to have an expertise over all aspects of cases that might come before them. I bet the SCOTUS justices have had to get up to speed and learn more difficult things than what is facebook.

Anonymous said...

This post is absurd. I'm more worried about the"Supremes" not knowing the basics of criminal procedure, patent or antitrust law.

Anonymous said...

I'm more worried about Judge Goldberg from the Court of International Trade in New York coming down to Miami every winter on the taxpayers' dime to try criminal cases. Even if that court doesn't have enough work, I'm pretty sure the full-time District Judges in the SDFL can handle the caseload here without the high-priced outside assistance.