An appeal to Texas’s Court of Criminal Appeals is arguing that Texas Penal Code § 42.07 (prohibiting electronic and telephonic harassment) is unconstitutionally overbroad, violating the First Amendment.
The appeal in the case of Scott v. Texas (nos. PD-1069-09, PD-1070-09) results from the conviction of Samuel Scott for harassing phone calls and voice-mail messages directed to his estranged wife. Mr. Scott was sentenced to two days in the Bexar County jail and a fine of $50.
Scott’s brief argued that blogs and social media are singled out for criminal sanction where traditional media is not:
In our fast growing social media world Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and any number of blogs all facilitate electronic communication. It is absolutely legal and expected that in societies people will argue, debate and verbally confront each others’ ideas. When one annoys another on the street corner, or at a town hall meeting, or even in the newspaper opinionated editorial section no one can be arrested. But if someone tweets, chats, posts or blogs the same Texas Penal Code § 42.07 makes it illegal.
The brief is on Westlaw: 2010 WL 1683760