Clay Calvert Pens Article on the First Amendment and True Threats of Violence
Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, is the author of “Rap Music and Threats of Violence: A Case for the Supreme Court to Decide” published in The Conversation on Jan. 29.
In the article, Calvert focuses on Knox v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a case involving Jamal Knox’s conviction on the charge of making terroristic threats against two police officers in a rap song. The Supreme Court will decide soon if it will hear the case.
“If it does choose to hear the case, it could have profound implications for freedom of speech in the United States. That’s because it concerns when people can go to prison for making statements that some considering threatening,” said Calvert.
According to Calvert, the First Amendment safeguards many types of speech, but the Supreme Court holds that it does not protect true threats of violence.
“The problem is that the Court has not clearly defined just what constitutes a ’true threat,’” he said. “If there’s one First Amendment doctrine that screams out the loudest for clarification, it may well be true threats.”
Calvert adds, “I believe that this case is important and should be heard because, as Knox’s attorneys argue, the definition of a true threat ’implicates the validity of countless convictions under myriad federal and state threat statutes.’”