Court Declares Officials Can’t Block People On Social Media

Remember the whole issue about a few whiny unhinged tools attempting to sue because President Trump blocked them on Twitter? Well, there’s this, via Hot Air

I first wrote about a lawsuit brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University a couple of months ago. As you may recall, it involves a group of people who had been blocked on Twitter by President Trump after some of their “constructive criticism” (read: trolling) apparently generated enough spam in his mentions column to be noticed. This was somehow interpreted as a First Amendment violation, leading to the pending lawsuit.

While the entire premise sounds like some sort of parody stolen from the pages of The Onion, we may have an early indication of how the courts will be treating such questions. This case doesn’t deal with the President, but instead an obscure fight involving the Board of Supervisors in Loudoun County, Virginia. The board’s chair apparently blocked a constituent, Brian C. Davidson, on Facebook (for a period of 12 hours before unblocking him) and deleted a post of her own which contained a comment from Davidson. The results from the initial hearing at the federal district court are disappointing to say the least. (Slate)

Davidson sued, alleging a violation of his free speech rights. As U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris explained in his decision, Randall essentially conceded in court that she had blocked Davidson “because she was offended by his criticism of her colleagues in the County government.” In other words, she “engaged in viewpoint discrimination,” which is generally prohibited under the First Amendment.

Jazz Shaw has much more, well worth the read. As for me, I’m just wondering if deputy DNC chair Keith Ellison will unblock me, or if I should sue him

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One Response to “Court Declares Officials Can’t Block People On Social Media”

  1. Dana says:

    It seems like a pretty bad decision. The Plaintiff ‘banned’ from the Facebook page could still read the page, and gather any information posted therein, but the 12-hour banning prevented him from posting on that age. The judge saw that as a freedom of speech issue, but hat the plaintiff combitched about was that he was not allowed to use that forum to publish his own statements.

    As it would apply to President Trump, the White House maintains the twitter address @POTUS, but Mr Trump personally owns and uses @realDonaldTrump. The decision, if applied to the President, would declare that his personal website is substantially government oriented.

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