ACLU of Maine Challenged Governor’s Practice of Blocking Constituents from Official Social Media Channels

Augusta – A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Gov. LePage’s practice of blocking constituents from his official Facebook page.

The ACLU of Maine filed the suit in August 2017, on behalf of two Maine women who have had their comments deleted and have been blocked from further commenting on the page. The LePage administration filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the ACLU of Maine argued that the plaintiffs have the right to have their case considered by the court.

“The recent trend of politicians silencing people on social media because they disagree with them is not just alarming, it’s also unconstitutional,” said Emma Bond, staff attorney at the ACLU of Maine. “Constituents expressing their views to their elected officials is a time-honored, crucial part of democracy. The methods may change, but the protections of the Constitution don’t. Free speech must be protected from government censorship on social media just as is it in any other public forum.”

In May, a federal judge in New York ruled that President Trump is violating the Constitution by blocking some Americans from viewing and commenting on his tweets. In that case, Knight First Amendment Inst. At Columbia University, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., the court held that blocking the plaintiffs because of the views expressed constituted impermissible viewpoint discrimination. According to the ruling, “The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from the designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President’s personal First Amendment interests.”

In the Maine case, the ACLU has similarly argued that the governor uses his official Facebook page as a place for interacting with the people of Maine, and blocking people from the page who disagree with the governor constitutes viewpoint discrimination and government censorship in violation of the U.S. and Maine constitutions.

More about the ACLU of Maine case, Leuthy, et al. v. LePage, is here: https://www.aclumaine.org/en/cases/leuthy-et-al-v-lepage

 

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