By Sharon Aron Baron
When one takes on a position as an elected official, they understand that criticism sometimes comes with it — it’s all part of the job. When an elected official goes as far as blocking their detractors on social media, they violate the First Amendment.
In 2019, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (see below) that the interactive portion of a public official’s Facebook page is a “public forum,” so an official cannot block people from it because of their opinions.
In fact, doing so is unconstitutional.
Bolton routinely uses his Twitter account for personal and government business. According to the ACLU, people who hold public office can act as private individuals, and other times, government actors. While Bolton may maintain his First Amendment rights when acting as a private individual, he subject to the limits the First Amendment places on the government whenever they’re doing government work.
In 2020, former President Trump asked the Supreme Court to restore his power to block individual Americans from following his Twitter account, an act that lower courts found violated citizens’ First Amendment rights. In January, Lauren Boebert, a Republican congresswoman from Colorado, was sued in federal court for blocking a constituent on Twitter.
The fact that a public official disagrees with you on an issue doesn’t mean they can silence you, and the Supreme Court made no exceptions.
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