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Mayor Lenny Curry could be violating the First Amendment on Twitter

Lenny Curry (1).jpg
Will Brown
/
Jacksonville Today
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry

Like plenty of Jacksonville dads, Mayor Lenny Curry tweets about the Jaguars, his kids and working out — all personal content. But experts say his other posts about government business could make his account an official government page subject to the First Amendment in the eyes of the law.

Government pages can’t restrict free speech based on viewpoint, according to University of Florida Brechner First Amendment Project director Clay Calvert. "The lower courts have made it clear that the interactive space on a Twitter account … constitutes a public forum when it’s being used for official purposes," Calvert said. "When government officials use it for such purposes, then they cannot engage in what we call viewpoint-based discrimination."

On some recent tweets, Curry allows only people he follows to reply. Calvert says that could amount to viewpoint discrimination and violate the First Amendment, but it would have to be hashed out in court. Curry’s office declined to comment about why he limits replies.

Read the rest of this story at Jacksonville Today, part of WJCT Public Media.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.