Blocked On Facebook, Douglasville Woman Sues County Commissioner

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Jim Massara
·2 min read
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DOUGLASVILLE, GA — A Douglasville woman has sued a county commissioner for blocking her from his Facebook page, saying that it violates her right to free speech.

Brenda Bohanon filed suit in June in Federal court against Commissioner Kelly Robinson, accusing him of violating her First Amendment rights and skirting a deal they’d made through Douglas County.

In May, the Douglasville County Board of Commissioners settled with Robinson over the same issue. At the time, Robinson agreed to unblock Bohanan and others from his public Facebook page. Douglas County paid Bohanan and her attorneys $2,500 to settle the issue.

Robinson then had 24 hours to unblock Bohanan from his public Facebook page. Instead, he took down the old page, created a new page and blocked Bohanan from that one, too.

Bohanan’s attorney Clare Norins, director of the First Amendment Clinic at the University of Georgia, told the The Douglas County Sentinel that Robinson’s new page was initially “pretty much the same” as his old page — except he doesn’t use “Commissioner” as part of the page’s name.

Although not identical, the new page does include posts connected to Robinson’s official capacity as a county commissioner.

Norins said that social media where there is an “interactive component” allowing people to comment is considered by federal courts to be “a designated forum for free speech.” Blocking Bohanan amounts to “viewpoint discrimination,” she said.

Robinson’s attorneys — which include former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens — had yet to respond last Friday, according to the Sentinel.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story appeared to imply — incorrectly — that Robinson's new Facebook page was exactly identical to his old Facebook page, other than its title. Patch apologizes for any misunderstanding that may have created.

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This article originally appeared on the Douglasville Patch