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Aug 8, 2012

Appeal of Ruling that "Like" Isn't Like Speech

Back in May, I wrote about a decision by a federal judge that former employees of a county sheriff's office could not sue for political retaliation after they were fired for "liking" the Facebook page of the sheriff's political opponent.

"It is the Court's conclusion that merely 'liking' a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection," District Judge Raymond A. Jackson held in Bland v. Roberts, Civil No. 11-45 (E.D. Va.  Apr. 24, 2012), slip op. at 6.

Forbes now reports that one of the former employees has appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and has garnered amicus support from the ACLU and from Facebook itself.

Facebook's brief argues that
The district court’s holding that“‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection” because it does not “involve[] actual statements,” betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of the communication at issue and disregards well-settled Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent. Liking a Facebook Page (or other website) is core speech: it is a statement that will be viewed by a small group of Facebook Friends or by a vast community of online users.
Amicus brief at 2.

The case is Bland v. Roberts, No. 12-1671 (4th Cir. appeal filed May 22, 2012).

4 comments :

Michael Cooper said...

Stupid judges piss me off.

Eric P. Robinson said...

The ACLU amicus brief is at http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/bland_v._roberts_appeal_-__amicus_brief_.pdf

Megan Cook said...

This is outrageous. Do we have a new law now that speech doesn't count if there aren't at least two words involved. What type of arbitrary reasoning was used to get around this one? A statement, within the meaning of the first amendment, can be one word long! A picture has no words as is famously worth 1000 words. I am very unhappy to learn that the one word phrase reaction I have to this opinion is not protected by the first amendment.

Eric P. Robinson said...

According to Bloomberg, the Fourth Circuit is hearing this appeal today (May 16, 2013).

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