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  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

ACLU Settles Case: State Senator Must Unblock Constituent on Social Media

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado announced a settlement today on behalf of Anne Landman, a constituent who was blocked in 2017 from Senator Ray Scott’s official social media accounts after she was publicly critical of several of his policy positions. As a result of the lawsuit, Scott has now unblocked Landman and must refrain from censoring anyone else with critical viewpoints from his social media accounts as a Senator, or in any future elected position.

“The overwhelming majority of cases has made very clear that the official social media pages of public officials, like Senator Scott’s, are public forums where individual’s speech is constitutionally protected,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Sara Neel. “Recognizing this, Senator Scott has agreed to unblock all users from his social media pages and will not block anyone else in the future based on viewpoint.”

The lawsuit alleged that Scott violated Landman’s First Amendment rights by blocking and banning her from the interactive portions of his official Facebook page and Twitter account. Previously, Scott had refused several of Landman’s requests for him to “unblock” and “unban” her.  As a result, Landman was unable to participate in representative government and the public discussions that took place on his official social media accounts. “It is a shame that I had to file a federal lawsuit to enforce my constitutional rights,” said Landman, “But I am just happy that Senator Scott will no longer be able to silence me or any of his critics.” 

Two years ago in Packingham v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court observed that the internet, and social media in particular, have become the most important places for the exchange of views. Officials in Kentucky, Maine and Maryland have faced lawsuits filed by the ACLU on behalf of constituents who were blocked on social media. Both the Fourth and the Second Circuits agree that a public official’s social media account can be a public forum and that viewpoint discrimination through the means of blocking responses from the public violates the First Amendment.

“Public officials are using social media as the new town halls and the courts have made it clear that officials cannot insulate themselves from criticism by excluding viewpoints that disagree with them,” Neel said. “Officials are now on notice, that blocking critics on social media platforms based on the speaker’s viewpoint violates the First Amendment and won’t be tolerated.”

In addition to Scott unblocking Landman, the state will pay the ACLU’s attorney’s fees. The ACLU team includes Sara Neel, Mark Silverstein and ACLU cooperating attorneys Ashley I. Kissinger, J. Matthew Thornton, and Mack D. Wilding Jr., of Ballard Spahr LLP.

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The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.



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