The Supreme Court is being asked to decide when an online threat becomes worthy of prosecution, in what could be the first internet speech case to reach the high court's docket for the 2013-2104 term beginning next month.
The justices are weighing whether to review the prosecution of an Iraq war veteran handed 18 months (.pdf) in prison for singing in a 2010 YouTube video that he would kill a local Tennessee judge if the judge did not grant him visitation rights to his young daughter.
"We think its potentially quite a significant case. People say things in the online world that they don't mean seriously," said the veteran's attorney, Chris Rothfeld. "Second, it's difficult to tell in the online world how a statement is intended. People say things and write things and they are read in an entirely different context."