Thick Enough to Stop a Bullet: Civil Protection Orders, Social Media, and Free Speech

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Benjamin Paul Bennett is a 2019 graduate of Columbia Law School.

Domestic violence occurs in private and public spaces, including the virtual spaces social media platforms create. This Note examines the role domestic violence Civil Protection Orders can play in regulating social media behavior. Contrary to scholars who have argued that injunctions and criminal statutes should rarely, if ever, prohibit “speech about” an individual, this Note argues that Civil Protection Orders prohibiting an abuser from mentioning his victim over social media are appropriate in some circumstances. In examining what circumstances justify such orders, and how those orders should be issued and enforced, this Note considers constraints set by First Amendment free speech principles and a desire to combat mass incarceration.

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