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Elonis v. United States
01:45 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday on a case examining free speech and social media

The outcome of the case, Elonis vs. U.S., could determine was is acceptable to post online

Washington CNN  — 

The U.S. Supreme Court considered Monday where to draw the line in protecting free speech on social media sites like Facebook.

The Court heard arguments in the case of a Pennslvania man convicted of making threatening statements about his estranged wife and law enforcement officials.

Anthony Elonis claims he did not intend to frighten anyone, that instead his writings were “therapeutic” and helped him deal with the sadness of his broken marriage.

Elonis’ attorney, John Elwood, told the high court the government must prove he intended to instill fear in others and make them feel threatened. “If he knows [his wife] is in fear he does not have the right to carry on,” Elwood said.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, arguing for the government, told the justices that it does not matter what Elonis intended, only whether a reasonable person would have felt threatened.

Dreeben said, “We want a standard to hold people accountable.” Arguing against the rap defenses, Dreeben argued in the context of rap lyrics, like those of rapper Eminem, “the clear purpose is entertainment.”

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