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Abstract

This Note will attempt to address the question of whether or not incidents of swatting aimed at contrary political ideals meet the characterization of domestic terrorism in the post–9/11 era. In particular, there will be consideration of the extent to which treatment of political swatting as domestic terrorism is consistent with the maintenance of the delicate balance between public safety concerns and protection of the constitutional values of free speech and free expression. This Note will proceed in four parts. Part I will examine the growth of telecommunication manipulation practices from products of curiosity to an alarming means of intimidation in modern day swatting and the dangers swatting presents to American communities. Part II will offer a history of the development of domestic terrorism in American jurisprudence and discuss the current state of domestic terrorism in the post–9/11 era. Part III provides context for the application of the domestic terrorism classification by offering examples of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, particularly the rise of “special-interest” domestic terrorism. Finally, Part IV analyzes political swatting in light of domestic terrorism requirements grown out of the PATRIOT Act and in comparison with prior examples of crimes classed as domestic terrorism. Part IV concludes with the argument that, in light of the definitional requirements of domestic terrorism in the United States and strong public policy interests, swatting should in fact be classified as an act of domestic terrorism when used to intimidate political adversaries or coerce advocates of a particular viewpoint to withdraw from participation in political discourse.

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