ACLU Sues CO State Senator Ray Scott for Blocking Constituent on Social Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 13, 2019

 

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ACLU Sues Colorado State Senator for Blocking Constituent on Social Media

 

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court this morning against Colorado State Senator Ray Scott for blocking constituent Anne Landman from his official Facebook and Twitter pages. Landman, a resident of Colorado Senate District 7 in Grand Junction, 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. 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. 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.”

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott

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. 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 KentuckyMaine and Maryland are currently facing lawsuits filed by ACLU on behalf of constituents who were blocked on social media. 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.

Federal Court: Elected officials’ blocking of critics is unconstitutional

Last May, President 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. “Just as we would not tolerate a government agency kicking a concerned citizen out of a public hearing because they disagree with an elected official, the same rules apply on the internet. 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.”

Scott has refused Landman’s many requests for him to “unblock” and “unban” her.  As a result, Landman has been unable to participate in representative government and the public discussions that take place regularly on his official Facebook page and Twitter account.

Viewpoint discrimination is “strictly forbidden by the First Amendment”

“Censorship based on the speaker’s viewpoint is strictly forbidden by the First Amendment,” said ACLU Staff Attorney, Sara Neel. “We’re filing suit not only to hold Sen. Scott accountable but also to educate other watchful citizens like Ms. Landman that they have the right to be critical of elected officials in whatever venue the government interacts with the public, including on social media.”

In addition to Silverstein and Neel, the ACLU team includes ACLU cooperating attorneys Ashley I. Kissinger, J. Matthew Thornton, and Mark D. Wilding Jr., of Ballard Spahr LLP.

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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.

  26 comments for “ACLU Sues CO State Senator Ray Scott for Blocking Constituent on Social Media

  1. Do we know if he has sex with young boys? That would be extremely Christian, and very wrong.

  2. First I would like to thank Anne Landman for restoring my right to post on her page. Did that decision perhaps evolve from her lawsuit against Senator Ray Scott; as in, don’t do as I do, do as I say do? And poof; just like that, I was unbanned. Thank you Jesus.

      • Yeah, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. And I know rank hypocrisy when I smell it.

      • Anne Landman
        May 22, 2019 at 6:59 pm
        AP, you were never banned or blocked from commenting.

        For the record Anne, your denial has been duly noted. And thank you again.

        cc to file

          • Well, I must admit, you do make a prima-facie case for third trimester abortion. But you could lead by example.

          • I’ll overlook that, out of courtesy for that transition that I know you’re going through, Annie.

          • Overlook what? This whole thing started over you lying about being “banned”.

          • Yeah… that’s typical. Backpedal when asked to back up your bluster. You’ve not changed. Here’s a direct statement, something you’re incapable of making:

            You lied about being banned.

          • Do you not know what “cc to file” indicates? Or is that the problem? Anne knows.

            But go ahead, run your mouth.

          • Another vague, empty threat.
            Put up, shut up, or just admit you’re a lying, craven fool.

            Or, post some more meaningless drivel.
            Direct confrontation really isn’t your style.

  3. Just want to say, your headline says “embarassing Republicans” if anyone should be “embarrassed” it should be you. If you purposely attack someone with fake news, and lets face it, “Climate Change” is a hoax, that IS not supported by a majority of Scientist’s. Even NASA’s climate report contradicts itself in several portions. Namely more snow acumulation in Arctic than Ice Melt and the fact that world average temps dropped .58c during the 2016-2017 years and are continueing to drop as I write. Get a life…Stop pushing the hoax…

    • Kenneth do you not understand the concept of “climate change.” It does not necessarily mean the world is simultaneously HEATING up, but that the system is no longer balanced. Example: the pH of the ocean has dropped. If it drops below the range of human normal blood pH, ALL life in the ocean will cease to exist. Now you can pretend that what you and 7.7 BILLUON other people do to Mother Earth has no effect…if that is so, I hope it is because you are so environmentally committed to not leaving a foot print. The future is worthy of our full attention.

  4. It’s horrible that things like that happen. Where’s his transparency? I didn’t have to see a picture to see that he’s a fat white guy. Surprise!! You can judge a book by its cover. No I don’t care that comment maybe offensive to some.

  5. You go, Anne! Never stop holding their feet to the fire. If this can happen to one of us it can, and seems to be, happening to more and more people who hold differing opinions.

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