Our office has sued State Representative Charles Clemons on behalf of one of his constituents, Peter Attwood, in a free speech case challenging Rep. Clemons’ decision to block Attwood from Clemons’ Facebook page and Twitter account. The basis, we allege, for Clemons’ action was Attwood’s social media posts inquiring about Clemons’ stance on gun control.
On February 20, 2018—6 days after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—the Florida House of Representatives voted on whether to debate House Bill 219, a bill which would have banned the sale and possession of assault weapons. Clemons voted against the motion, and the motion failed. On February 21, 2018, Attwood retweeted a tweet from a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student. The student’s tweet was critical of the Florida House of Representatives for failing to take up debate on the assault weapons ban. In retweeting the student’s tweet, Attwood linked to Clemons’ account stating, “Hello @ChuckClemons21 I’m a constituent. Please explain this vote please. Thank you.” Shortly thereafter, Clemons blocked Attwood on Twitter. Attwood then commented on Clemons’ official Facebook page, criticizing Clemons for blocking him on Twitter. Clemons responded by also blocking Attwood on Facebook.
Through this lawsuit, we are protecting the free speech rights of voters and other constituents like Mr. Attwood who simply want to communicate with their legislators and hold them accountable for their decisions and the carrying out of their official responsibilities.