A parent is suing Denver Public Schools and school board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson, alleging that he violated her First Amendment right to free speech by blocking her from viewing and posting on his Facebook page.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Tuesday, comes amid legal uncertainty in the United States over whether elected officials can block constituents from their social media pages.
Colorado legislators passed a law earlier this year allowing elected officials to ban anyone from their private social media accounts. The state law was a first-of-its-kind statute, but the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two similar cases and decide the matter in its coming session.
The lawsuit by Denver parent Eve Chen was filed, in part, to directly challenge Colorado’s new law — and is the first to do so, said Andrew McNulty, an attorney representing Chen.
“That state law is unconstitutional,” he said, adding, “It attempts to give (public officials) the right to censor speech.”
Anderson said in a statement that his actions were “in strict compliance” with the new Colorado law, which he said “empowers elected officials to regulate their social media interactions.”
“Since my election to the Denver School Board, which marked me as the youngest African American to assume public office, my family and I have been subjected to harassment and death threats via social media platforms,” Anderson said in a statement. “This is why I closely monitor my social media presence.”
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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