Peter S. Larson

Document Type

Supreme Court Commentaries

Publication Date


Subject Category

Constitutional Law | Law


This commentary analyzes the Supreme Court case Elonis v. United States where the Court will determine the applicable criminal-intent standard required to convict a defendant for threatening speech. After a series of violent Facebook posts against coworkers and his estranged wife, Petitioner Elonis was convicted for making so-called "true threats" of violence--speech not granted First-Amendment protection. Elonis argues that the prosecution should have been required to prove that he actually had the intent to threaten people when he wrote the posts, not simply that a reasonable person would find the posts threatening. The Author argues that the Court should rule in the Petitioner's favor and require a finding of subjective intent because such a mens rea requirement is suggested in the plain meaning, legislative history, and by the Court's true-threat jurisprudence.