Updating this previous post, the employees of a Virginia sheriff’s office who were fired allegedly for expressing support for the incumbent’s opponent in Bland v. Roberts have appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the employees “liked” the opponent’s Facebook page, but the district court found that “liking” a Facebook page was not entitled to First Amendment protection because it did not involve an “actual statement.”
Both the ACLU and Facebook have filed amicus briefs in the case arguing that “liking” the Facebook page of a candidate for public office is protected speech. Drawing a parallel between someone wearing an “I Like Ike” button, the ACLU’s brief argues that “liking” a candidate’s Facebook page clearly conveys a message about a matter of public concern and as such it lies at the very heart of the First Amendment. Facebook’s amicus brief in turn analogizes “liking” a candidate’s page to residential campaign signs, which were accorded First Amendment protection by the Supreme Court in City of Ladue v. Gilleo.