July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024
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ACLU of West Virginia files lawsuit against county commissioner for social media blocking

The ACLU of West Virginia Takes Legal Action Against County Commissioner for Social Media Blocking

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia has filed a lawsuit against Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Stolipher for blocking a constituent on social media. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, alleges that Stolipher violated Harpers Ferry resident Christy Stadig’s First Amendment rights when he blocked her from his Facebook page in May 2022.

Stadig claims she was blocked after questioning Stolipher about a county financial audit on one of his Facebook posts. Despite her public request to be unblocked at a Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee meeting, Stolipher did not comply. Stolipher’s Facebook page, titled “Steve Stolipher County Commissioner,” is categorized as a “Government Official” page on the platform.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating on whether public officials have the right to block critics from commenting on their social media accounts. This issue arose previously in a case involving former President Donald Trump, where the Supreme Court dismissed the case after Trump’s permanent suspension from Twitter and the end of his presidential term. The court has now agreed to hear two cases involving lesser-known figures.

The ACLU of West Virginia has been vocal in criticizing government officials, including Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, for blocking constituents on social media. ACLU Legal Director Aubrey Sparks emphasized that the right to criticize public officials is fundamental to the First Amendment. Sparks noted that complaints about being blocked from public Facebook pages are common for the ACLU of West Virginia.

Sparks stated, “We are eager to resolve this issue definitively. If a politician cannot handle questions from their constituents, they have the option to refrain from using social media.” While public officials have the authority to restrict access to their pages in certain circumstances, such as safety concerns, the ACLU maintains that the ability to critique public officials is essential for upholding free speech rights.

ACLU of West Virginia files lawsuit against county commissioner for social media blocking


In a recent turn of events, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia has taken legal action against a county commissioner for allegedly blocking users on social media platforms. The lawsuit, which was filed in response to concerns about free speech and censorship, has sparked a debate about the boundaries of online discourse and public officials’ obligations to uphold the First Amendment.


Social media has become an essential tool for communication and engagement in today’s digital age. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow individuals to connect with their elected representatives, share their opinions on various issues, and participate in online discussions. However, when public officials use their official social media accounts to silence dissenting voices by blocking users, it raises questions about the right to free speech and access to information.

Key points of the lawsuit:

  • The ACLU of West Virginia alleges that the county commissioner violated the First Amendment rights of residents by blocking them on social media.
  • The lawsuit argues that public officials’ social media accounts are considered public forums, and blocking users based on their viewpoints is unconstitutional.
  • The case highlights the importance of protecting free speech online and holding elected officials accountable for their actions in the digital realm.


The outcome of this lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for how public officials engage with constituents on social media. If the court rules in favor of the ACLU, it could set a precedent for other similar cases across the country and establish guidelines for how elected officials must conduct themselves on social media platforms.

Potential benefits:

  • Protecting the right to free speech and expression for all individuals, regardless of their viewpoints.
  • Increasing transparency and accountability in government by ensuring that public officials cannot censor public discourse online.
  • Setting a standard for how social media should be used as a tool for civic engagement and public communication.

Practical Tips

For individuals who are concerned about being blocked by public officials on social media, there are a few practical steps they can take to address the issue:

Tips for dealing with social media blocking:

  • Reach out to the ACLU or other legal advocacy organizations for support and guidance.
  • Document any instances of being blocked or censored on social media for future reference.
  • Stay informed about your rights and legal protections regarding free speech online.

Case Studies

There have been several high-profile cases in recent years involving public officials blocking users on social media:

Case Outcome
President Trump vs. Twitter users U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking users on Twitter.
Virginia politician vs. constituents Virginia court ordered a county official to unblock constituents on Facebook and refrain from future blocking.

Firsthand Experience

Have you ever been blocked by a public official on social media? Share your story and insights in the comments below.



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