Social Media Decisions

I ran across these two court decisions recently.  Two very different interpretations of First Amendment Protection.

PFLAG v. Camdenton School Dist. III, out of the Western District of Missouri,the Court granted an injunction against the Camdenton school district when it prohibited students’ access to Lesbian and Gay friendly websites but allowed access to Anti-lesbian and gay websites.

The court ruled that the school district violated students’ First Amendment rights by intentionally blocking websites supportive of gays and lesbians using filtering software.PFLAG claimed the School District administrators intentionally blocked 41 websites based solely on their LGBT-supportive content, but allowed anti-LGBT websites through the filter. The Court ordered Camdenton to “discontinue its Internet-filtering system as currently configured, and any new system must not discriminate against websites expressing a positive viewpoint toward LGBT individuals.”

In another case,John Doe v. Bobby Jindal, out of the Middle District of Louisiana, the Court upheld a criminal defendant’s First Amendment rights when the government attempted to impose a state law prohibition against his use if Facebook while on sex offender probation. The Court ruled that the law imposed “a sweeping ban on many commonly read news and information websites,” as well as social networking sites. The definition of “chat room” in the law is so broad, for instance, the court’s own website could fall under the ban.

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