Tweets

Colorado Rights Blog

Videos

  • One year ago, thousands of Coloradans marched in a historic display of resistance. At the ACLU of Colorado we carried that spirit throughout the year, fighting on many fronts for civil liberties. We won’t stop now.

  • By canceling DACA, Trump has put 800,000 young people at risk of losing their jobs and being deported from the only country they know as home. Passing the bipartisan Dream Act would protect them. We asked four Dreamers why the Dream Act is important to them and their future.

  • James Fisher spoke at the ACLU of Colorado Bill of Rights Dinner about how he and the ACLU are working together to stop the criminalization of poverty for the thousands of Coloradans who are trapped in debtors’ prisons.

  • Our membership has quadrupled in the last six months, making it possible to do more than ever to protect civil rights and civil liberties in Colorado. Thank you to all our new members, supporters, and donors, and the ones who’ve been with us for years.

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.

###

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.



Return to News