ACLU lauds court ruling against public officials blocking constituents on social media

aclu virginiaThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled today that the chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors can’t block constituents from social media accounts used for official business.

The ACLU of Virginia had filed an an amicus brief in the case, styled Davison v. Randall, siding with the plaintiff.

Comment from ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:

“The Fourth Circuit ruling makes clear that, if a public official maintains a social media account to talk about official business and invites constituents to participate, a public forum has been created. People then can’t be denied access based on the content of their speech. The court held that the distinction the Loudoun County chair tried to make between “public” and “private” accounts is irrelevant. Government cannot rent private space to conduct public business and then claim the constitution doesn’t govern activities in the private space. If it is government activity, then, constitutional free speech guarantees against viewpoint-based discrimination apply.

“The Fourth Circuit has sent a strong message to public officials and agencies in Virginia and other states in the circuit. You cannot ban speech you don’t like from social media accounts you use to talk about government business. Public officials at all levels of government should act quickly to comply with this ruling.”


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