Is it a First Amendment violation for a politician to block you on social media? SCOTUS to decide

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 5:06 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Social media has taken over large portions of public communication, including politics. Civil liberty advocate David Greene with the Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that means public accounts need accounts need to remain open to online criticism.

David Greene: Electronic Frontier Foundation

“Social media is taking the place of people writing letters or making phone calls to their public officials.”

The Supreme Court is taking up cases involving the Port Huron Michigan City manager and members of a San Diego area school board Tuesday.

Amanda Karras, an attorney advocating for public officials, said the millions of public sector employees have First Amendment rights too.

Amanda Karras: Director, International Municipal Lawyers Association

“A lot of people, you know, start off with a personal account, and then it sort of morphs into, well now I have this position at the city and I might occasionally comment on something that would be a matter of public concern,” Karras, the director of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, said.

Karras said if the Supreme Court makes rules too strict on government officials, the public might lose out on information.

“I think it will be much easier for them to just throw up their hands and say, you know, I’m going to just shut down my social media account because I don’t know where the line is.”

Green said allowing public officials to block opposing viewpoints is dangerous for public discourse.

“It really gives officials the ability to distort the public dialogue. To make it seem like something they say is widely supported because they’ve surprised opposing views.”

The court will take up the cases Tuesday morning.