Public officials cannot block naysayers from social media
By Carolyn Schurr Levin
The campus quad is a place where students, professors, administrators, staff, and visitors talk, walk, congregate, share ideas, play catch, hawk college newspapers, and so much more. It is a space that has traditionally been open and accessible, with few limitations, not only at public universities, but also at private colleges. In many respects, it is similar to a traditional town square, the open space in the heart of a town where people gather, share thoughts and are entertained.
Because they are open to all, town squares are, by law, considered to be traditional public forums which are given the highest level of First Amendment protection. They are public places that have by long tradition been devoted to speech and assembly. The government has a difficult time limiting speech in such spaces.
A public forum has traditionally been a physical place. But, in the 21st century, we interact in new digital types of public squares. On Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, we meet virtually, instead of in person, to share and debate ideas. Although we don’t throw a Frisbee disc as we do on the campus quad, we toss out our opinions to our virtual communities. What happens then, if public officials try to limit us from access to that online space because they don’t like our opinions? Can they do that? Or is that similar to telling a student that he can’t express his ideas to his friends while traversing the campus quad? Continue reading “Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump: Reimagining the Town Square”