Criminalizing "Malicious Communications"

September 11, 2015

In September 2015 the ACLU of Michigan wrote to the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees urging them to reconsider a proposed “malicious communications” speech code that would have made it a crime to make a phone call or send a text message with the intent to “annoy any other person” by, among other things, “using vulgar, indecent . . . or offensive language.”  The letter explained that the vague ordinance would criminalize protected speech and that there were other constitutional methods to address bullying, which was the purpose of the ordinance.  The township decided not to adopt the ordinance. 

(ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg.)