Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones ... But Words May Break the Bank: Monetary Damages For 'True Threats' and the Future of Free Speech After Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette v. American Coalition of Life Activists
This Note is divided into five parts. Part I introduces the plaintiffs and defendants in Planned Parenthood and provides a detailed description of the content of the posters as well as the other evidence used to find the defendants liable for threatening speech. Part II presents a brief description of the details of, and impetus for, the enactment of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act ("FACE"), as the act provides the basis for liability. To highlight that the majority's position in Planned Parenthood did not comport with current First Amendment jurisprudence, Part III analyzes the major decisions handed down in this area in the past four decades. Part IV offers a synthesis of the facts of the instant case with the precedent set forth in the cases discussed in Part III. Part IV argues that under the Supreme Court's 'true threat' precedent, as well as the Ninth Circuit's own standard for defining a 'threat,' the posters and supporting evidence must be viewed as the type of political speech that has long been protected by the First Amendment. Finally, Part V looks at other cases where liability was premised on a violation of FACE and suggests that even if liability was proper in the instant case, the remedy was not. Injunctive relief is the least restrictive with respects to prohibiting political speech and should be the preferred remedy if political speech steps outside the protections provided by the First Amendment.
Randall D. Nicholson,
Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones ... But Words May Break the Bank: Monetary Damages For 'True Threats' and the Future of Free Speech After Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette v. American Coalition of Life Activists, 33 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.