The Supreme Court Ruling On Government Officials and Social Media Users

The Supreme Court ruling on government officials and social media users. And any ruling at this point can have significant ramifications for just how politicians utilize their social media accounts.

Government Officials Social Media Users

Government Officials Social Media Users

The Supreme Court at the moment is set to hear two separate cases that could ultimately decide whether the first amendment lets government officials block users on personal social media accounts where they get to post about their works.

The cases are O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier and Lindke v. Freed, with both concerning public officials who make use of social media. The first in question involves two elected school board members who blocked parents who had left repetitious comments on their posts. The second on the other hand involves James Freed, the city manager of Port Huron, who then blocked accounts and deleted comments from his Facebook page. Neither of the cases mentioned applies to whether platforms can ban or otherwise moderate users, which is an issue that the Supreme Court is very much likely to take up at a later point.

Previous Cases of Public Officials Blocking Users

The case of public officials blocking users has come up in court prior to this, most prominently with former President Donald Trump. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia sued the administration back in 2017, and an appeals court then ruled in 2019 that him blocking critics did however violate the First Amendment.

Adi Robertson of The Verge has an excellent write-up on the potential legal implications of the Trump ruling here. But at the time, it was still unclear as to how the ruling could affect other politicians and agencies at large. A decision from the Supreme Court could however help to clarify that further and may even have major ramifications for just how politicians get to use their social media accounts.



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