Alaska State Senator Lora Reinbold is suppressing free speech, says Bobbie McDow of Chugiak. The woman says Reinbold has removed McDow’s comments from Reinbold’s “Senator Lora Reinbold” page because McDow has posted messages critical of Reinbold’s position against wearing face masks during a pandemic.
“State Senator Reinbold’s mindlessness is not surprising: she has accused Alaska Airlines of ‘mask tyranny,’ been banned from Alaska Airlines for violating its mask policy, publicly criticized Governor Dunleavy’s vaccination efforts in Alaska, and been banned from parts of the Capitol for violating basic COVID-19 guidelines,” the lawsuit says.
“Now, State Senator Reinbold is violating the Alaska constitution by discriminating against Ms. McDow based on her viewpoint. Because of her viewpoint, Ms. McDow is banned from commenting on posts on the public and interactive ‘Senator Lora Reinbold’ Facebook page. She is also banned from liking or otherwise reacting to State Senator Reinbold’s posts, from replying to or liking the comments of other users, from conversating with other users, and from messaging State Senator Reinbold,” the lawsuit states.
Because the page is labeled “government official,” McDow, who is a registered Democrat, points out that she is being blocked from expressing herself on an official government site.
Her complaint documents in detail the political and interactive nature of Reinbold’s Facebook page, including Reinbold’s many calls to action regarding issues she is championing.
In 2019, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the interactive portion of a public official’s Facebook page is a “public forum,” and that means an official cannot block people from it just because of the opinions they hold.
That case involved a member of a board of supervisors in Virginia. Supervisor Phyllis Randall briefly blocked a critic from her official Facebook page and also deleted a comment he had made about her board’s use of public funds.
This new complaint, as filed by the Northern Justice Project
in cooperation with Alaska Legal Services, using a template from Alaska Legal Services is listed here: