On February 3rd, a University of Tennessee student sued the school for violating her First Amendment right to free speech. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Western Division, Kimberly Diei says that she was nearly expelled from the university’s graduate pharmacy program for her social media posts.
Not every “political” social media account run by a public official is a public forum, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled on January 27th. The case involves a Missouri state legislator who was sued by her political opponent after she blocked him from her Twitter account.
A day before Joe Biden's inauguration, the Justice Department under Donald Trump made a last-minute effort to undo a major court decision related to public official's social media accounts.
Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other privately-held companies have imposed bans on President Donald J. Trump, believing that his incendiary comments on January 6, 2021, helped fan the flames of outrage that resulted in an assault on the Capitol. Trump and others have decried the social media blackout as a direct assault on conservative points of view, and as a draconian targeting of only certain types of speech.
Today’s students are growing up connected – tweeting, live streaming, posting on a seeming 24-7 cycle. The many controversies involving Facebook, Twitter, and other social media provide an excellent opportunity to teach First Amendment principles in a relatable way. President Donald Trump’s blocking of some critics from his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is one such opportunity to engage students in the First Amendment.
The report details 35 incidents of universities punishing students or faculty for speech online, and 10 universities with policies in place that FIRE says give administrators “immense power to punish large swaths of speech.” According to the advocacy group, many public universities are acting like the First Amendment applies differently to online speech.
A supporter of President Donald Trump attacked a photojournalist on September 30th, a few hours prior to a Trump rally in Duluth, Minnesota. Dymanh Chhoun, a reporter on assignment for CBS local channel WCCO-TV, was covering a gathering of Trump and Biden supporters on a public road outside of Duluth.
The 21-year-old claims he is being singled out because of his political beliefs, and that students who wrote posts advocating for violence against police officers were not punished. Though the First Amendment generally protects public university student's right to express themselves online, experts say the extent of those protections may be different in the context of military institutions.