Clay Calvert Comments on Jacksonville Mayor’s Possible First Amendment Violation for Blocking People from Replying on His Twitter Account
Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project and Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, is quoted in “Mayor Lenny Curry Could Be Violating the First Amendment on Twitter” published in Jacksonville Today on Dec. 13.
The article focuses on whether the Jacksonville mayor is violating the First Amendment by blocking some people from replying to him on Twitter.
According to Calvert, “If a politician or government official is using a social media account to conduct government business — and I mean that broadly in the sense of discussing governmental policies, discussing other government officials — then that is going to trigger First Amendment concerns.”
“The lower courts have made it clear that the interactive space on a Twitter account … constitutes a public forum when it’s being used for official purposes,” Calvert said. “When government officials use it for such purposes, then they cannot engage in what we call viewpoint-based discrimination.”
Mayor Curry restricts only those he doesn’t “follow” from public discussion on his posts.
“That’s almost worse because now he’s selectively excluding people,” said Calvert. “Viewpoint-based discrimination would be blocking people who disagree with the mayor but allowing those and not blocking those who agree with the mayor.”