The Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider a pair of cases involving the social media accounts of public officials, with First Amendment implications for how politicians interact with constituents who post critical comments.
cautioned the justices against a broad ruling that would “transform communications in private spaces into official action.” In the first case, a Southern California couple sued a pair of school board members after they were blocked from the officials’ Facebook pages. Christopher and Kimberly Garnier, whose children attended the public schools, regularly posted critical messages.in a broad decision that said the action of the school board members could be attributed to the government because of the appearance and content of their pages. The board members, Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff and T.J.
“Rather than facilitating more speech by the public, the decision below will lead to self-censorship by citizens who are also officials,” Hashim M. Mooppan told the justices in a court filing.In the second case, a different appeals court reached the opposite conclusion based on a narrower test for evaluating the social media activity of elected officials. headtopics.com
The appeals court, however, sided with Freed, who described himself on his Facebook page as a father, husband and city manager and listed the city’s website and general email as his contact information. Although Freed posted about city affairs, the overall content on the page he created before his appointment as city manager tended toward family activities, according to court filings.