U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert will not be required to unblock a former state lawmaker from her personal Twitter account, a federal judge in Colorado ruled Thursday.
Boebert, a Garfield County Republican, did not violate the free speech rights of former state lawmaker Bri Buentello because she blocked Buentello from her personal Twitter account, @laurenboebert, rather than her official government account, @RepBoebert, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico ruled.
“Blocking a Twitter user on an account created before she was elected to office is something Ms. Boebert could do before she was in office and could do after she leaves office,” Domenico, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote.
Domenico denied Buentello’s request for a preliminary injunction forcing Boebert to unblock her. It’s not a final ruling on the case, which Buentello filed in January.
“It is a blow to our freedom of speech when a politician using a platform such as Twitter can block voices of dissent which she disagrees with and the courts won’t intervene to stop this First Amendment violation,” said David Lane, an attorney for Buentello. They will likely make a decision on whether to continue pursuing the case later this week, Lane said.
Boebert represents the 3rd Congressional District, which spans the Western Slope and includes Pueblo, where Buentello lives. Buentello’s lawsuit argued that since Boebert uses the account to share official policy positions, it is unlawful for her to block constituents from viewing it.
A number of Colorado elected officials have lost challenges after blocking constituents on social media. A lawsuit filed against Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, resulted in a $25,000 settlement. Another legal action brought against state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, resulted in another $25,000 settlement.
A federal court also ruled that Trump could not bar critics from accessing his social media pages. In March, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, a Georgia Republican, agreed not to block anyone from her public Twitter account or other social media as part of a settlement.
Buentello failed to prove that Boebert’s Twitter block was an act of the government, not a private individual, according to the ruling.
“That an account might be used for official purposes in one instance does not necessarily turn everything the account holder does into state action,” Domenico wrote.
Buentello, who filed the legal action, served two years in the Colorado legislature before losing her reelection bid in November. She has been highly critical of Boebert, calling her a “white supremacist and unapologetic fascist.”