Judge upholds man's right to post on Rep. Ehrhart's Facebook page

Mar. 7—A federal judge ruled Tuesday that state Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-west Cobb, must cease blocking and removing the comments of opponents on her official Facebook page.

The ruling from Judge J.P. Boulee found Ehrhart violated the First Amendment in blocking Thomas Bidermann, an Atlanta man whose comments were removed from Ehrhart's page in 2019.

Biedermann at the time — using a pseudonym on Facebook — had criticized Ehrhart's proposal to make it a felony for Georgia doctors to help a minor medically transition their gender. He filed suit after that comment, and several others, were removed from Ehrhart's page.

Ehrhart previously told the MDJ Bidermann had harassed other Facebook users and violated her page's content standards.

Biedermann, Judge Boulee noted in his order, was one of dozens whose accounts were blocked and comments were removed by Ehrhart — a contingent united under the banner of #BlockedByGinny.

Biedermann sought an injunction to bar Ehrhart from removing comments or blocking him from doing so, arguing the speech was protected because it was made on Ehrhart's official — rather than personal — social media page.

Ehrhart, meanwhile, had argued "she would be damaged by a preliminary injunction because the official Facebook page would be subjected to a flood of internet spam," wrote Boulee, an appointee of President Donald Trump.

But Boulee found the First Amendment infringements outweighed any potential damage from unblocking the commenters. He ordered Ehrhart to "cease unconstitutional viewpoint-based blocking and removal of (Biedermann's) expressive activity on the official Facebook page and to rescind her ban on Plaintiff's access to the official Facebook page."

Speaking to the MDJ Tuesday, Ehrhart alluded to the fact that Boulee tossed out an initial complaint against Ehrhart as an individual, not as a lawmaker.

"Mr. Biedermann attempted to sue me personally and failed at that attempt. The judge dismissed any claims against me personally," Ehrhart said. "The current claim is essentially against the office of the legislator. While we're disappointed in this finding, we are examining our next steps."