A federal court has denied a request that would have preliminarily barred the Governor’s office from permanently blocking and banning Kentuckians on its official Facebook and Twitter pages. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the Governor Office’s social media moderation practices that we believe lack the requisite narrow tailoring for any legitimate speech restriction.     

Between Facebook and Twitter, more than 600 accounts had been permanently blocked from participating in these online, public forums, including the two Plaintiffs in this case, Mary Hargis and Drew Morgan. 

In denying preliminary injunction, the court found that Governor Bevin’s use of social media is “personal speech,” and that he is speaking on his own behalf, “even on his own behalf as a public official,” and the First Amendment does not apply.  

Heather Gatnarek, ACLU of Kentucky Attorney, had this comment:

“Because of the importance of individuals’ speech rights, we are disappointed that hundreds of Kentuckians will continue to be blocked or banned from accessing Governor Bevin’s official social media accounts.  The Governor has repeatedly asked people to connect with him directly in these public forums in lieu of using traditional media outlets.  At this critical time in the Commonwealth, when important issues like the budget and pensions are being considered, we believe Kentuckians’ rights to engage in political speech and receive information from the governor’s office are being violated. We will continue to fight to ensure Governor Bevin’s office will adopt and publicize a constitutionally-sound policy regarding the moderation of his official, online public forums.”