Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Files Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, U.S.S.C. Case No. 13-983

Oct 2 2014
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Files Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, U.S.S.C. Case No. 13-983

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that his office has filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, U.S.S.C. Case No. 13-983.  An amicus brief supports the position of one of the parties in a case.  Wisconsin filed today’s brief in support of the United States.


Anthony Elonis was convicted under a federal statute for using Facebook to make unlawful threats against his wife, local and federal law enforcement officers, and elementary school children.  The Supreme Court will consider whether, in a criminal prosecution for making threatening statements, the First Amendment requires proof that the accused subjectively intended the statements to be threatening, or whether it is enough to show that a reasonable person would understand the speech as threatening.  Wisconsin joins the United States of America in arguing that the reasonable-person standard is constitutionally sufficient.  Seventeen other states, the District of Columbia, the territory of Guam, and the National District Attorneys Association joined Wisconsin in this effort by signing on to Wisconsin’s amicus brief.


“Threats generate fear, disrupt lives, and deprive victims of a basic sense of personal security.  All too often threats accompany or precede incidents of domestic violence, when abusers act on threats, causing untold pain, suffering, and even death,” Van Hollen said.


A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.


The amicus brief was authored by Assistant Attorney General Thomas C. Bellavia of the Department of Justice’s Special Litigation Unit.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.