DENVER (CBS4) – ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court Monday against Colorado State Senator Ray Scott for blocking a constituent from commenting on his official Facebook and Twitter pages. The ACLU says Anne Landman is a resident of Colorado Senate District 7 in Grand Junction who speaks out regularly on public policy issues and writes about Colorado politics on her blog. She also uses social media to interact with fellow constituents and elected officials, the group stated.
“Landman had been able to interact with Scott and others in these spaces until June 2017, when she wrote an article critical of Scott’s position regarding climate change and posted it on his official Facebook page,” the ACLU stated. “In response, Scott blocked Landman from his Facebook page and official Twitter account.”
“Sen. Scott censored me for being a critical constituent. Yet, he’s allowed his like-minded followers to ridicule me on his page and retain their right to speak freely,” Landman said. “This doesn’t feel like democracy. This feels like hypocrisy and punishment for having a different point of view.”
The complaint alleges 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.
In January, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a citizen who had been blocked on social media by a government official.
Last May, President Donald Trump’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in Manhattan. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments and is expected to affirm that ruling. ACLU is seeking a judicial ruling in Landman’s case that Scott’s blocking violates the First Amendment and an order to unblock.
“Social media platforms are the new town halls,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director, Mark Silverstein. “When an elected official or government agency is using social media to communicate with the public, the government cannot pick and choose who gets to see or comment on that information.”
CBS4 has reached out to Sen. Scott’s office for comment and has not yet received a reply.