Trump Twitter Ruling Cites Loudoun Case

A federal appeals court’s ruling that President Donald J. Trump may not block people on Twitter cites a precedent-setting lawsuit against Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) decided earlier this year.

A three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled unanimously Tuesday that because Trump uses his Twitter account for government business—often announcing policy, arguing politics or haranguing other users and world leaders to his nearly 62 million followers—he cannot block other Twitter users from accessing his social media feed. He had been sued after doing so.

Included in the 29-page opinion is a mention of Davison v. Randall, the federal case in which Randall was sued for blocking Brian Davison from her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” Facebook page, where he had posted allegations of conflicts of interest by School Board members and their families. Randall deleted the post and blocked him to prevent him from making additional postings. She then unblocked him the next day.

Another federal appeals court reached the same decision in that case, affirming a lower court’s ruling that Randall was acting “under color of state law” in running that Facebook page, in deleting Davison’s comment and in banning Davison from the page.

“Randall’s decision to ban Davison because of his allegation of governmental corruption constitutes black-letter viewpoint discrimination,” wrote Judge James A. Wynn Jr. in the court’s ruling. “Put simply, Randall unconstitutionally sought to ‘suppress’ Davison’s opinion that there was corruption on the School Board.”

Subsequently, Randall said comments would no longer be allowed on that page at all, although today they are.

The case drew national attention as one of the first to delve into murky First Amendment questions online, and in their ruling, the three-judge panel in Randall’s case also contemplated—but did not answer—other quandaries, such as conflicts between First Amendment protections against government censorship online and the possibly stricter content regulations of the private online forums being used.

“We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are exploring possible next steps,” Department of Justice spokesperson Kelly Laco said in a statement after the Trump ruling.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

8 thoughts on “Trump Twitter Ruling Cites Loudoun Case

  • 2019-07-09 at 3:58 pm
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    Brian Davison rocks. Chair Phyllis J. Randall does not.

    Four months until we depose the queen. Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray!

  • 2019-07-09 at 5:06 pm
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    so that no one forgets the root issue with Brian, he was not using FB to simply post about the county and the schools, he was (and still does) actively, targeting anyone who dared to voice anything negative about himself – he tried to stifle criticism in the name of his own, personal freedom of speech. For those who doubt what I write, watch this space for his replies.

  • 2019-07-09 at 5:26 pm
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    It also cost the taxpayer 120 thousand dollars for Randall to get thumped by Brian and the court.

  • 2019-07-10 at 7:08 am
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    So there’s “personal free speech” and “public free speech” YN? That’s the incomprehensible position you’re selling this time?

  • 2019-07-10 at 3:19 pm
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    Chris – not sure what you are seeing as an attempt to sell you anything?? But the reality is that Brian does everything he can to assert his opinions while doing everything he can to stamp out any discussion. Look at this posting her, on LTM, the old Leesburg Today, and especially on Facebook where his menacing, personal attacks against private citizens and individual teachers are well known throughout the county. So, while we are celebrating this decision, we should keep in mind that Briar is no a hero of Free Speech – he has always been solely focused on himself all while trying to shut down all opposing viewpoints.

  • 2019-07-11 at 2:31 pm
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    YN, I don’t know Mr. Davison. But I do know he’s passionate about his cause, and apparently, has his ducks in a row, as I’ve never seen anyone seriously contest his arguments for reform or exposing corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse. Anyone who’s read our local papers the last few years knows there is vast room for improvement and reform in the school system (Davison’s forte’) and at Harrison Street. He has every right to speak his mind on these, or any other public pages, as he wishes.

    Minus the facebook — I don’t facebook, I’ve never seen personal attacks on people. I’ve seen him hold his own and clearly articulate his positions. If those arguments hurt government official’s feelings, then all the better! They stepped into the arena; they best be able to explain their actions, or they need to move along.

    He’s challenging the status quo, which is what we as citizens should all be doing. If folks defend the establishment, then defend it! Argue your points. Contest Davison. Prove him wrong with facts. If you can’t, then you end up looking like Chair Randall; an oppressor of the freedom of speech.

    I join with you in celebrating the court decision above just as I celebrated Randall getting schooled on the meaning of the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights is non-negotiable, even if far too many of our elected office holders demonstrate their loathing of them.

  • 2019-07-11 at 5:11 pm
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    if only he would control himself and target public officials, allowing private citizens to join the conversations instead of menacingly attacking anyone with a different viewpoint. Brian is not a champion of the rights of us all, only his own

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