Republican U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado should be ordered to immediately stop blocking former state lawmaker Brianna Buentello on Twitter, she argues in a new court filing.
“Because it is clear that Boebert uses the @laurenboebert account as a tool of governance, Boebert’s blocking of Buentello from the @laurenboebert account was state action and, consequently, violates the First Amendment and Colorado Constitution,” Buentello's lawyers argue in papers filed Friday with U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico in Denver. “Given that Buentello has demonstrated a likelihood of success that Boebert violated her constitutional rights, granting her request for a preliminary injunction is appropriate.”
The papers come in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Buentello, who says she was blocked by the first-term lawmaker after calling for her recall, and characterizing her actions on January 6 as “seditious.”
Buentello says the block amounts to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
Boebert countered in papers filed last month that her Twitter account is “personal,” as opposed to an official governmental account. The First Amendment only prohibits the government from discriminating based on viewpoint.
She argues that she uses the @laurenboebert account -- which was created the same day she declared her candidacy for office -- “to communicate her political views to potential voters and other political actors,” and for fundraising and other campaign purposes.
But Buentello counters in papers filed Friday that Boebert uses the account “as a tool of governance and an organ of official business.”
Boebert has posted from that account about her views on a broad array of topics, including foreign policy, new legislation and the federal budget, Buentello argues.
The court papers give several examples, including an April 2 tweet that criticized President Biden's infrastructure proposal as a “massive expansion of government control,” that “raises taxes to squander trillions on a liberal wishlist we can’t afford.”
“Boebert is not using @laurenboebert to post about her personal life,” attorneys for Buentello write. “It is not filled with pictures of her family and friends, backyard barbeques, or her restaurant.”
Federal appellate judges on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently sided with a lawmaker in a separate dispute over social media blocks. In that case, the judges said the lawmaker's account was “personal,” and he therefore didn't violate the First Amendment by blocking a critic.
But federal judges on the 2nd Circuit ruled in 2019 that former President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking critics on Twitter.
In that case, the judges rejected Trump's stance that the @realDonaldTrump account (which was taken down by Twitter earlier this year) was merely personal.
The judges wrote: "The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
That ruling was recently vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court, on the grounds that the dispute between Trump and his critics is moot now that he's no longer in office.