The federal appeals court ruling is the first time a case challenging a politician's use of social media has reached the appellate level.
WASHINGTON — In Virginia, a federal appeals court has ruled Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall violated a constituent’s Constitutional rights by banning him for 12 hours from her official Facebook page.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Randall violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by temporarily banning him from posting on her Chair Phyllis J. Randall Facebook page.
In 2016, Davison accused Loudoun school board members and their relatives of corruption, on Randall’s official page, under his “Virginia SGP” profile.
The court rejected Randall’s argument that the page was private, since it included and invited public interaction.
“Randall’s ban of Davison amounted to ‘viewpoint discrimination,’ which is ‘prohibited in all forums,'” according to the ruling.
“Put simply, Randall unconstitutionally sought to ‘suppress’ Davison’s opinion that there was corruption on the School Board,” the panel wrote, in a 3-0 ruling.
Davison’s case was the first of its kind to reach the federal appellate level, and could be used to set precedent.
President Donald Trump has asked an appeals court in New York to overturn a ruling that he could not block Twitter critics from his @RealDonaldTrump account.
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