"When is a Threat a Threat?"
On April 19th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Counterman v. Colorado, the First Amendment case considering a question related to speech that is a “true threat” and not protected by the First Amendment.
Jennifer Becker, Legal Momentum’s Legal Director, was quoted in multiple media outlets about the implications the decision in this case could have for survivors of stalking and other forms of gender-based violence, explaining to Ms. Magazine that:
“If we eliminate the objective standard we lose the ability to consider the contextual, individual experience of the survivor. Abusers will be more easily able to argue ignorance of the impact of their statements when really their threats are part of an overall pattern of abusive conduct aimed at exerting power and control over the survivor but accomplished in part by speech that, when isolated, might appear innocuous to others.”
Becker also spoke about some of the disappointing questioning deployed by some of the Supreme Court justices during arguments, including minimizing and joking about there being an oversensitivity to receiving threats and equating our typical everyday familial interactions to the sort of threats involved in stalking.
"We would expect that today, in the highest court in the land, there would be a greater understanding and respect for the realities of stalking and gender-based violence."
And read the amicus brief Legal Momentum, along with the National Crime Victim Law Institute, AEquitas and the Complex Appellate Litigation Group, submitted in support of Colorado here.