December 4, 2017

AND RIGHTLY SO: Ban on speech ‘about a person’ that negligently causes ‘significant mental suffering, anxiety or alarm’ struck down.

Illinois “stalking” and “cyber-stalking” statutes criminalize (among other things),

“knowingly engag[ing] in [2 more or acts] directed at a specific person,”
including “communicat[ing] to or about” a person,
when the communicator “knows or should know that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to”
“suffer emotional distress,” defined as “significant mental suffering, anxiety or alarm.”

The statute expressly excludes, among other things, “an exercise of the right to free speech or assembly that is otherwise lawful.”

This morning, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down these provisions (which it referred to as “subsection (a)”), in People v. Releford. (I should note that my students Brandon Amash, Sarah Burns and Emily Michael, and I — with the invaluable help of pro bono local counsel Steven W. Becker — filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Cato Institute and the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project supporting this result.)

Read the whole thing.

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