A federal judge in Colorado has sided with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert and will not force her to unblock a former state lawmaker on Twitter.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico ruled Thursday that Boebert’s decision to block Bri Buentello did not violate Buentello’s First Amendment rights because the block occurred on Boebert’s personal account rather than her government account.
“The First Amendment’s protection of the people’s right to free speech, like other rights protected by the Constitution, is implicated only when the government, not a private entity or individual, regulates speech,” wrote the judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Buentello, a Democrat, sued Boebert, a Republican, in January and sought a preliminary injunction that would have forced Boebert to unblock Buentello. She cited cases in which courts found that elected officials, including Trump, cannot block constituents. Buentello, who lives in Pueblo, is a Boebert constituent.
Boebert, who was represented by congressional lawyers, argued that Buentello failed to distinguish between Boebert’s personal account, @laurenboebert, and her government account, @repboebert. Buentello is only blocked from viewing and interacting with Boebert’s personal account.
Domenico found the congresswoman’s argument more persuasive.
“The unrebutted evidence shows that no government staff operate the @laurenboebert account,” the judge wrote. Therefore, the Twitter blocking was not a government action and “the court will not interfere in the operation of Representative Boebert’s Twitter account.”
David Lane, a Denver attorney who represents Buentello, called the ruling “a shame” and said it limits free speech.
“Rep. Boebert uses her personal Twitter account for political purposes and when her constituents are critical of her, she blocks them,” Lane said Sunday.
“That is the antithesis of free speech and the court validated that censorship in its decision. Every court decision which cuts back on the Bill of Rights makes us less free as a people — this decision included,” he added.
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