How MOEG Steve Ly is Like POTUS Donald J. Trump

May 28, 2018 |  

Earlier this week a federal judge agreed with a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against President Donald Trump. In the ruling Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that Trump was violating the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs when he blocked the Twitter users from his @RealDonaldJTrump account.

The judge reasoned that since Trump had used the account to announce a variety policy matters, it was a public forum, and therefore it was unreasonable and illegal for Trump to block someone whose views he does not agree with. The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institue at Columbia Univerisity and several individuals who had been blocked by Trump.

While enforcement of the ruling will be an exciting development to watch, it does open a host of questions on the use of social media by elected officials. And that would include the City of Elk Grove.

Readers may recall that some time ago, the Mayor of Elk Grove (MOEG) blocked this organization from his Twitter account, which to the best of our knowledge is @Steve4ElkGrove. While the act of any elected official from the POTUS to the MOEG blocking constituents from any of their social media is absurd - there are all sorts of way to still see the information - it does raise some questions, and in Elk Grove, it is not without precedent.

A few years ago, a locally-based forum, with the full cooperation of the City of Elk Grove, hosted a series of live online chats with a variety of city officials. Problems arose when a member of the public, who had been blocked by the forum operator, questioned the appropriateness of hosting a public forum that exercises discrimination in who could access the site.

The city quickly realized it would be not only a violation of public trust, but it was also a First Amendment issue. From that point forward the city stopped the practice of using private forums for live public discussions.

Likewise, is the MOEG violating the First Amendments rights when he blocks people from his various social media platforms? If challenged, MOEG will undoubtedly lawyer-up and consult city attorney Jonathan Hobbs.

In his usual manner, Hobbs will probably advise Ly that as long as he does not make any policy announcements on behalf of the city or for that matter convey any information that is from the city, he is in the clear. Or put another way, if he continues to block people, he cannot convey any city information no matter how minor. 

We will be monitoring the situation.   

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