WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning threats that a Pennsylvania man made toward his estranged wife and others on Facebook could hinge on how the nine justices interpret the sometimes violent imagery in rap lyrics.
The justices, not known for their pop culture bona fides, are set on Monday to hear a one-hour oral argument in an appeal filed by Anthony Elonis. He was convicted for making threats aimed at his wife, law enforcement officers and others after posting statements on Facebook in 2010 soon after his wife left him. They are now divorced.
The posts were mostly in the form of rap lyrics in which he fantasized about committing violent acts. One recounted a visit by an FBI agent in which he imagined murdering her: “Pull my knife, flick my wrist, and slit her throat/ Leave her bleedin from her jugular in the arms of her partner.”
Elonis’ lawyers say his statements are little different from lyrics written by performers like rapper Eminem. In his 2000 song “Kim,” Eminem rapped about killing his wife and putting her body in the trunk of his car.