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)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.
By William Teach