Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday rebuked the Kansas Supreme Court for allegedly taking the high court’s precedent too far in a ruling that let a man off the hook for telling a police officer’s son that his dad would end up “in a ditch.”
Thomas did so while dissenting from the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal of that case and one other about a man who told his mother that he was “going to f—— kill [her] a–” after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that both cases involved speech that was protected under the First Amendment. That ruling overturned the state law the two men were convicted under — which Thomas argued contradicts past rulings and represents an “overreading” of a 2003 Supreme Court case.
In the case at hand, a man named Timothy Boettger was upset one night because someone had shot his daughter’s dog and police were not investigating, according to a petition submitted by Kansas asking the Supreme Court to overrule the state court and reinstate its law. Boettger went to a convenience store, where he knew an employee was the son of a police officer.
There, “Boettger told another employee that ‘these people … might find themselves dead in a ditch somewhere,'” before leaving and returning again to confront the officer’s son.
“You’re the man I’m looking for,” Boettger allegedly told the officer’s son while visibly shaking and with clenched fists. He continued to say, according to testimony from the officer’s son, that “he had some friends up in the Paseo area in Kansas City that don’t mess around, and that I was going to end up finding my dad in a ditch.”