United States v. Cassidy: The Federal Interstate Stalking Statute and Freedom of Speech

June 9, 2012

Stalking is a crime that affects millions of people each year, with profound mental, physical, and financial effects for victims. In a technological world, new forms of stalking arose through online interactive mediums such as Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and email. Cyberstalking has many of the same ramifications as traditional stalking but with some new twists. As shown in United States v. Cassidy, activity that would be considered stalking, if done offline, may be protected speech if accomplished through an online medium. In Cassidy, the court found the federal interstate stalking statute, which makes many forms of cyberstalking illegal, unconstitutional as applied to tweets and blog postings about a public, religious leader. This Recent Development considers the ramifications of Cassidy on cyberstalking laws and argues that these laws must be reexamined in light of First Amendment protections. Specifically, it argues that the best possible solutions to protect stalking victims may, in fact, be extralegal rather than legal in nature.