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This amicus brief in support of Kansas’ petition for certiorari in Kansas v. Boettger discusses the important issue of whether the First Amendment require proof of specific intent to criminally punish violent threats. The brief argues that the First Amendment does not contain any such requirement and that creating any such requirement would interfere with effective prosecution of domestic violence.

The Kansas Supreme Court’s decision over which review is being sought required the state to prove that an abuser had a specific intent to cause fear. If allowed to stand, the decision will make prosecuting and preventing domestic violence even more challenging, without any corresponding benefit. In domestic violence cases, there is rarely direct evidence of specific intent, and domestic-violence victims often struggle to confront their abusers in court. Indeed, the impact of abusers’ psychological, emotional, and physical abuse is often so severe that victims frequently struggle even to seek help. The Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to impose a specific intent requirement in a case involving violent threats is inconsistent with decisions from other courts, the law in over a dozen states, the Model Penal Code, and the history and tradition of the First Amendment. This amicus brief concludes that the Supreme Court should grant certiorari to review the decision below and reverse it.