CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Nine elected West Virginia officials and one police department have been notified that they are violating the First Amendment rights of their constituents who they have blocked on Facebook and Twitter.
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) sent the notices Wednesday to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Delegate John Mandt, State Sen. Mike Azinger, State Sen. Patricia Rucker, Delegate Tom Fast, Jefferson County Commissioner Patsy Noland, Fayette County School Board member Darrin McGuffin, State Sen. Mark Maynard, Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom and the Parkersburg Police Department.
The U.S. Supreme Court has referred to social media as a “modern public square.” When a government official cuts off access to a public square because of a constituent’s viewpoint, they are depriving that person of their rights under both the federal and state constitutions, said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark, who issued the notices.
“It’s unacceptable for public officials to deny their constituents access because of a differing viewpoint,” Stark said. “And it is just as unconstitutional to bar a constituent from engaging on an official social media account because they disagree with you as it is to ban someone from a town hall event.”
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that an elected official engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination when she banned a constituent on Facebook.