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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Federal Appeals Court Rules; Politicians Can’t Block Foes On Social Media

A federal appeals court said on Monday a Virginia politician violated the Constitution by temporarily blocking a critic from her Facebook page, a decision that could affect President Donald Trump's appeal from a similar ruling in New York. In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her "Chair Phyllis J. Randall" page. 

The ban came after Davison had attended a 2016 town hall meeting, and then under his Facebook profile "Virginia SGP" accused school board members and their relatives of corruption and conflicts of interest. Randall had also removed her original post and all comments, including Davison's. Circuit Judge James Wynn rejected Randall's argument that her Facebook page was a private website, saying the "interactive component" was a public forum and that she engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination. Davison's speech "occupies the core of the protection afforded by the First Amendment," Wynn wrote.

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