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30 minutes
  • Constitution
  • Supreme Court
  • 9-12
  • College/University

  1. Pass out copies of the case study and have students discuss it in small groups. Tell the groups they should attempt to come to a consensus about which position they would take.
  2. Ask the groups to share out their choice and reasoning. Use the questions below to guide the discussion.

  • True Threats or Venting handout (download), one per student or small group

  • What are some arguments for his speech being protected by the First Amendment? What are some arguments against it?
  • How can you tell if speech posted on social media is meant to be taken seriously? At what point should the government intervene?
  • How are Elonis’s posts similar to or different from lyrics of professional rap artists?
  • How could a ruling in favor of Elonis negatively impact the lives of people who are harassed and threatened online?
  • How could a ruling against Elonis negatively impact online speech?
  • How would you balance protecting free expression with protecting people’s lives?

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