Buentello v. Boebert
District Court, D. Colorado
Congresswomen Lauren Boebert Blocks Constituents on Her Personal Twitter Account. Trump appointee Judge Danny Domenico rejects prior Trump Twitter blocking case which he lost on appeal at the Second Circuit. (It was only vacated because it was deemed moot at the US Supreme Court, who avoided answering the Petition by intentional delaying the case); and other related cases which settled.
JAN 17, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: AUG 1, 2021
UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR SCHEDULING ORDER
Defendant United States Representative Lauren Boebert, in her official capacity, respectfully requests that the Court enter an order establishing the following proposed briefing schedule. In support of this motion, the undersigned states as follows:
1. On June 24, 2021, the Court denied Ms. Buentello’s motion for preliminary injunction. See ECF No. 31.
2. Following that order, counsel for the parties met and conferred regarding each party’s anticipated next steps in this matter and the most efficient schedule for any related briefs.
3. As a result of those discussions, Congresswoman Boebert now respectfully moves the Court to establish the following deadlines:
a. Rep. Boebert’s forthcoming motion to dismiss the complaint shall be filed by August 25, 2021.
b. Ms. Buentello’s response to the motion to dismiss shall be filed by September 15, 2021.
c. Rep. Boebert’s reply regarding the motion to dismiss shall be filed by September 24, 2021.
4. Given the House’s other litigation deadlines and the Congresswoman’s ongoing official duties, this schedule will allow the parties to efficiently litigate the remaining issues in dispute and will permit the Congresswoman to fully address the important issues presented in this case.
5. Counsel for Plaintiff Brianna Buentello has indicated that Ms. Buentello does not oppose this motion.
Dated: July 26, 2021
/s/ Douglas N. Letter
DOUGLAS N. LETTER
TODD B. TATELMAN
Principal Deputy General Counsel
BROOKS M. HANNER
Associate General Counsel
OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
5140 O’Neill House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-9700 (telephone)
Attorney Representing Buentello
US judge: Rep. Boebert can block people on personal Twitter
JUN 28, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 31, 2021
DENVER (AP) — A federal judge ruled last week that Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert does not have to unblock a former Democratic Colorado state lawmaker from her personal Twitter account.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico (A TRUMP APPOINTEE) said in his decision Thursday that Boebert, who represents the state’s 3rd Congressional District, did not violate the free speech rights of former state Rep. Bri Buentello because Boebert blocked Buentello from her personal Twitter account — and did not block Buentello from Boebert’s official government account, The Colorado Sun reported.
“Blocking a Twitter user on an account created before she was elected to office is something Ms. Boebert could do before she was in office and could do after she leaves office,” said Domenico, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Buentello filed her lawsuit in January after she was blocked by Boebert after calling for Boebert’s recall following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Buentello’s lawyers argued that since Boebert uses her personal Twitter account to share official policy positions, it is unlawful for her to block constituents from seeing the account.
Although Domenico denied in his ruling a preliminary injunction for Boebert to unblock Buentello from the Twitter account, it’s not the final ruling on the case.
David Lane, an attorney representing Buentello, said they will make a decision on whether to continue litigating the case this week.
“It is a blow to our freedom of speech when a politician using a platform such as Twitter can block voices of dissent which she disagrees with and the courts won’t intervene to stop this First Amendment violation,” Lane said.
Boebert has links to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory and has sought to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. She gained attention for pledging to carry a gun in the Capitol.
Buentello lives in Boebert’s district and served a single term in the state House of Representatives before losing a reelection bid last November.
An Independent Judiciary
US judge: Rep. Boebert can block people on personal Twitter
JUN 28, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: AUG 1, 2021
Opinion which does not follow Trump Opinion which was upheld on Appellate Review re definition of a personal Twitter account.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert will not be required to unblock a former state lawmaker from her personal Twitter account, a federal judge in Colorado ruled Thursday.
Boebert, a Garfield County Republican, did not violate the free speech rights of former state lawmaker Bri Buentello because she blocked Buentello from her personal Twitter account, @laurenboebert, rather than her official government account, @RepBoebert, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico ruled.
“Blocking a Twitter user on an account created before she was elected to office is something Ms. Boebert could do before she was in office and could do after she leaves office,” Domenico, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote.
Domenico denied Buentello’s request for a preliminary injunction forcing Boebert to unblock her. It’s not a final ruling on the case, which Buentello filed in January.
“It is a blow to our freedom of speech when a politician using a platform such as Twitter can block voices of dissent which she disagrees with and the courts won’t intervene to stop this First Amendment violation,” said David Lane, an attorney for Buentello. They will likely make a decision on whether to continue pursuing the case later this week, Lane said.
Boebert represents the 3rd Congressional District, which spans the Western Slope and includes Pueblo, where Buentello lives. Buentello’s lawsuit argued that since Boebert uses the account to share official policy positions, it is unlawful for her to block constituents from viewing it.
A number of Colorado elected officials have lost challenges after blocking constituents on social media.
A lawsuit filed against Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, resulted in a $25,000 settlement.
Another legal action brought against state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, resulted in another $25,000 settlement.
A federal court also ruled that Trump could not bar critics from accessing his social media pages.
In March, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, a Georgia Republican, agreed not to block anyone from her public Twitter account or other social media as part of a settlement.
Buentello failed to prove that Boebert’s Twitter block was an act of the government, not a private individual, according to the ruling.
“That an account might be used for official purposes in one instance does not necessarily turn everything the account holder does into state action,” Domenico wrote.
Buentello, who filed the legal action, served two years in the Colorado legislature before losing her reelection bid in November. She has been highly critical of Boebert, calling her a “white supremacist and unapologetic fascist.”
Top of the morn’ @RMFifthCircuit @HBA_Appellate @AdamSteene We couldn’t locate this crackin’ inside view on clerks running https://t.co/3AEdYLyLuY (QB’s as Judge Oldham would say) so if y’all deleted it from your @youtube in err, we’ve the full copy available. #appellatetwitter pic.twitter.com/1JF5s9kb36
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) June 27, 2021
Trump’s Twitter blocking violates Constitution, appeals court rules
JUL 9, 2019 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: AUG 1, 2021
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Opinion Affirming Trump violates the US Constitution by Blocking Twitter Users Accounts.
Washington — An appeals court said Tuesday that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking users on Twitter.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York judge’s ruling and found that Trump “engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit certain users’ access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech.”
“We hold that he engaged in such discrimination,” the ruling adds.
Texas State Judge Blocks LIT on Twitter
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York judge’s ruling and found that
Trump “engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit certain users’ access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech.”
“We hold that he engaged in such discrimination,”
the ruling adds.
Read: 2nd Circuit ruling on Trump blocking Twitter users
The judges on the appeals court concluded that “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.”
The challenge to Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter in office came from seven individuals he blocked, as well as the Knight First Amendment Institute, which argued that the President’s personal account is an extension of his office.
The Justice Department argued in March that the President wasn’t “wielding the power” of the federal government when he blocked certain individuals from his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, because while the President sends tweets in his official capacity, he blocks users as a personal matter.
An Independent Judiciary
But the appeals court disagreed with that view.
“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide‐open, robust debate,”
“This debate encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of ideas and viewpoints and generates a level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen.
This debate, as uncomfortable and as unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing.
In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”
Tuesday’s ruling affirms the position taken last year by a New York federal judge, who ruled that Trump had violated the Constitution when he blocked Twitter users.
US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling that
“no government official – including the President – is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared.”
Texas Attorney General Agrees To Not Block Critics from His Twitter Account
A victory for Texans’ First Amendment rights in Knight Institute v. Paxton
A lawsuit challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s blocking of critics on Twitter
JUL 12, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: AUG 1, 2021
Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Complaint by the Knights at Columbia University on Behalf of Texans Blocked on Twitter by AG Paxton.
AUSTIN, Texas —Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has unblocked all critics from his @KenPaxtonTX Twitter account and has agreed not to block people based on viewpoint in the future. Paxton’s agreement, memorialized in a joint stipulation filed late Friday in federal court in Austin, brings to a close a lawsuit challenging Paxton’s actions under the First Amendment.
The case was filed in April 2021 by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas on behalf of nine individual plaintiffs and the Knight Institute. Paxton had blocked the individual plaintiffs from his @KenPaxtonTX account after they criticized him or his policies in their own tweets.
“We’re pleased that Attorney General Paxton has agreed to stop blocking people from his Twitter account simply because he doesn’t like what they have to say,”
said Katie Fallow, senior counsel at the Knight First Amendment Institute.
“Multiple courts have recognized that government officials who use their social media accounts for official purposes violate the First Amendment if they block people from those accounts on the basis of viewpoint. What Paxton was doing was unconstitutional.”
We’re so happy we can see the State’s top attorney and alleged, thief, adulterer and criminal @KenPaxtonTX twitter feed as we are now UNBLOCKED and we have to thank @knightcolumbia for an awesome job done. Hat tip to y’all. He loses AGAIN at a cost to taxpayers funds? #txlege pic.twitter.com/DYluZMnX6a
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) July 14, 2021
“This is an important victory for Texans’ First Amendment rights,”
said Kate Huddleston, attorney for the ACLU of Texas.
“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit for Attorney General Paxton to comply with the Constitution and respect Texans’ right to their free speech, including their right to criticize his policies and qualifications in their responses to his tweets.”
As the complaint in the lawsuit explains, Paxton uses the @KenPaxtonTX Twitter account to announce, describe, and defend his policies and legal challenges brought by his office; to comment on national and local issues; and to share news appearances and interviews related to his official duties.
These tweets typically generate dozens, if not hundreds, of engagements on Twitter in the form of replies, likes, retweets, and quote tweets.
Some of the individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit found themselves blocked from Paxton’s account after they tweeted their views about the top Texas law enforcement official’s qualifications and policies, including tweeting about funding for lawsuits brought by his office; commenting on the fact that he was previously indicted; or tweeting “wear a mask nerd,” after Paxton retweeted a photo of himself and another person at the Conservative Political Action Conference, with neither of them wearing masks.
In response to the lawsuit, Paxton unblocked the nine plaintiffs in May, and he subsequently unblocked all other accounts that had been previously blocked by the @KenPaxtonTX Twitter account. He also agreed to not block users from the account based on their viewpoints in the future.
The U.S. Courts of Appeals for both the Second and Fourth Circuits have held that public officials who block people from their official social media accounts based on viewpoint are violating the First Amendment. In Knight Institute v. Trump, the Second Circuit held that President Trump could not block users from his @realDonaldTrump account because “he disagree[d] with their speech.”
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court found the case to be moot and vacated the Second Circuit decision on that basis, without addressing the merits.
Read the joint stipulation here.
Read more about Knight Institute v. Paxton here.
The individual plaintiffs include a U.S. Army veteran, a journalist, a director of a Texas nonprofit, an immigration advocate, two students, a sales representative, a communications project assistant, and an attorney.
Lawyers on the case include, in addition to Fallow and Huddleston, Lyndsey Wajert, Jameel Jaffer, and Alex Abdo of the Knight First Amendment Institute, and Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas.
For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, communications director, email@example.com.