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Friday, July 28, 2017

Local politician can’t ban constituents from Facebook page – judge

A federal court in Virginia has ruled that a politician violated a constituent’s free speech rights when she blocked him from her Facebook page. The ruling could impact a similar case involving President Donald Trump banning Twitter users.

US District Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled on Tuesday that a Facebook page of Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) “operates as a forum for speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution,”according to a copy of the decision obtained by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

The ruling comes from a lawsuit filed by Brian Davison who sued Randall in February of last year after he was banned from the “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” Facebook page for around eight hours. Davison was still able to read and share content posted to the pages, but could not post comments or send private messages to Randall.

Cacheris ruled that the consequences of Randall’s actions were “fairly minor,” however, he said that she committed "a cardinal sin under the First Amendment."

“The court holds only that under the specific circumstances presented here, [the] defendant violated the First Amendment by engaging in viewpoint discrimination and banning plaintiff from a digital forum for criticizing her colleagues in the county government,” Cacheris wrote.

Randall said she temporarily blocked Davison after he posted comments critical comments “attacking the family members of the Loudoun County School Board.”

“I value our right to free speech and I have fought to defend that right,”Chair Randall said in a statement. “The court’s decision, however, does not mean that people should make disparaging, untrue, or slanderous remarks about elected officials or their family members on social media.”

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Publishers Notes: WATCH OUT MAYOR JAKE DAY

10 comments:

Anonymous said...


The Eastern District of Virginia where this decision originated is covered by the 4th Appellate Circuit as is our District of Maryland, so this decision is likely to have a binding effect locally.

Anonymous said...

I, as well as several friends, know first hand that you will be promptly blocked if you go against the grain of Jake Day's agenda. I have absolutely no problem being blocked by his personal Facebook account - I think he has every right to do so; however, I do have a problem being blocked by the official City of Salisbury Facebook account. I pay the salaries of the people monitoring that account and the phone bills of the devices used to access it. I have every right to make comments and to be heard by the City and its followers. It's not my fault that the Jake Day and the City want to sweep all of the non-desirable news and information under the rug...

Anonymous said...

Jake Day isn't for the people in Salisbury any more than John McCain is for the people of America! When are you people going to get it? What do you need? A sledgehammer upside your head to understand? Get Day OUT OF CITY HALL!

Anonymous said...

Day is a liar. Simple as pie. He's always been a liar and will always be a liar! Liar 🤥

Anonymous said...

If he can't handle criticism or questions on FB then he should not have one. In his position blocking is so unprofessional, not that he ever comes across as being professional or one with leadership qualities. He seems extremely immature.

Anonymous said...

Another little man with the Napoleon complex.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you check out the latest play on words your illustrious mayor and his sidekicks have cone up with. Obviously they're admitting the severity of Salisbury's drud problem and all the crime that goes with it so now they are soliciting tee shirts with the logo their "hope dealers" like this is going to be of some sort of significant impact. Unreal for grown people in leadership roles like the mayors office and civic leaders and this is all they can come up with, a bunch of hope dealers, you too can buy o e only $12, LMAO

Anonymous said...

Well Ms Randall, Slander is again the law and can be criminally prosecuted so IF this guy was slandering someone, which we all know he wasn't and we all know you just banned him for telling truths about you and other people who are corrupt, which by doing this ban proved this statement to be true, then you would have sued him for slander...

You can't argue any point of how you so called tried to defend free speech when you ban someone for free speech... The first amendment covers dis-likable speech for that reason, becasue you don't like it, you wouldn't try to ban someone other wise if it were likable speech...

Anonymous said...

I can't really blame them. I would want to block many people around here too. too many negative nellies and others who act like an anchor around your neck holding you down.

Anonymous said...

912 people are entitled to voice their opinions, if you don't like it, you can move to another country that monitors speech. I hear China is nice this time of the year.