Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules Politicians Can Not Block Critics On Social Media

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On Monday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that banning critics from politicians’ social media pages was unconstitutional.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decided 3-0 to uphold a 2017 ruling that Phyllis Randall, the chair of Virginia’s Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment rights of Brian Davison by banning him from her official Facebook page for 12 hours.

In Monday’s decision, Judge James Wynn argued the interactive component of the Facebook page made it a public forum and that banning someone from it represented illegal viewpoint discrimination.

With this being the first federal appellate-level ruling on the subject, it could be used as precedent in future legal cases. Lower courts have thus far gone back and forth on whether politicians’ social media pages count as public forums.

One case it may affect is already on the books: President Donald Trump recently asked the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to review a 2018 ruling that he could not block critics from his Twitter account. A date for oral argument in his appeal has not been set.

 

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