On March 15, 2011, William Meichert-Dinkel, a Minnesota nurse, was convicted of two counts of assisted suicide, based solely on things he said in emails and online chat rooms. This note examines whether cyber speech encouraging suicide, such as Meichert-Dinkel's, should be protected by the First Amendment. States have compelling interests in preserving life, preventing suicide, and protecting vulnerable persons from abuse, and the majority of them have assisted suicide statutes that could be applied to cyber-suicide speech. However, because cyber- suicide speech does not fit neatly into recognized categories of "low-value" or unprotected speech, punishment may be foreclosed by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, because counseling suicide was a felony at common law, speech encouraging suicide-including cyber-suicide speech-should be identified as a "traditional" category of unprotected speech. Alternatively, an assisted suicide statute as applied to cyber-suicide speech has a good chance of surviving strict scrutiny. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Chicago Kent Law Review is the property of Chicago Kent Law Review and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
Thea E. Potanos,
Dueling Values: The Clash of Cyber Suicide Speech and the First Amendment,
Chi.-Kent. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol87/iss2/17