Case Overview

Political officeholders widely recognize and embrace the power of social media.  From mayors to district attorneys, congressional representatives to police chiefs, public officials from America’s smallest towns and largest cities alike use social media to connect with citizens. Many officials—including President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump—continued to use their personal social media accounts to communicate with the public while in office.

Yet too many officials harness the power of social media while also selectively blocking or banning certain members of the public from interacting with their accounts. Government officials can’t have it both ways: Officeholders who opt to use their social media accounts as tools of governance forfeit the ability to cancel critics or delete unfavorable comments.

James Freed, city manager of Port Huron, Michigan, used his own Facebook page to conduct town business but blocked a critic whose comments he disliked. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit departed from other courts that have considered similar cases to hold that Freed’s censorship did not violate the First Amendment.

On June 30, 2023, FIRE filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to hold that Freed and other officials who use “personal” accounts to carry out their official duties cannot violate the First Amendment by engaging in viewpoint censorship.