Politics

Lauren Boebert Gets Twitter Suit Win Because Court Finds Her Weak

Twitter pics of former Colorado state representative Brianna Buentello and U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert.
Twitter pics of former Colorado state representative Brianna Buentello and U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert. @Bri4CO/@laurenboebert
U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico has rejected a preliminary injunction request involving the Twitter account of Lauren Boebert, U.S. representative for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. But one of the reasons for the decision Isn't particularly flattering. Former Colorado state representative Brianna Buentello had filed a lawsuit against Boebert, claiming that Boebert's choice to block her on the social media platform ran afoul of the First Amendment. In denying the injunction, Domenico said that "Representative Boebert, or any member of Congress, has almost no power to act on behalf of the United States government."

Back in January, after Buentello filed her original suit, her attorney, David Lane of Denver-based Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, noted that Boebert "is a government official, and when a government official has a personal Twitter account and an official Twitter account, but they post about politics on both, the courts view both of them as public forums for politics. So if she blocks people as a public official, she is violating the First Amendment."

As a result, Lane continued, "We're asking the court to enter an injunction barring her from blocking people on her Twitter account. ... The courts have held that the Internet is the new marketplace of ideas, and when the government acts to stifle it, that should be the concern of every single American who values our freedom."

Domenico felt differently. "Because Ms. Buentello has not met the high bar required for the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction, the Court will not interfere in the operation of Representative Boebert’s Twitter account," he wrote in his June 24 decision.

To support this determination, Domenico broke down the various contentions pressed by Lane, with the first labeled "Authority of Members of Congress to Act on Behalf of the State." He acknowledged a 2017 ruling against former President Donald Trump for blocking the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on his Twitter account — a case cited by Lane. But in the judge's view, "The party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor," and he found that Boebert doesn't qualify.

"Her authorized powers, and those of her colleagues, are important, but few," Domenico maintained. "She can participate in the election of the Speaker of the House and other House Officers.... She can propose bills (including the exclusive power, along with her fellow Representatives, to initiate revenue bills) and vote on bills.... She can vote on articles of impeachment of the President and other civil officers.... And she can vote for the President if a majority of the electoral college fails to elect a candidate.... Those are profound powers, and ultimately Congress as a whole is in control of the ship of state. But its individual members, unlike executive branch officials, generally do not have authority to act on behalf of the state."

Boebert's celebration of the ruling was limited to a retweet of a June 28 Denver Post article. But she's certainly been busy on Twitter regarding other topics. She supplemented a Fox News post with the headline "[Minnesota Representative] Ilhan Omar says every illegal immigrant in US should have 'pathway to citizenship'" with this: "Is that so you don’t have to marry them so they can get citizenship like you did your brother?" She also tweeted: "They spied on President Trump’s campaign, so it’s not surprising they’re spying on Tucker Carlson too. The Left wants a state where all opposition is monitored & ideally eradicated."

And she added this pitch on behalf of her re-election campaign: "We've got just 2 days left until fundraising for this quarter is over. I'm not the establishment, so I rely on the grassroots to step up for me! That's how we won in 2020 & that's how I'll keep winning. Pitch in today so we can stop these radical Democrats!"

Including those she chooses to block on Twitter. Click to read the order in the case of Brianna Buentello v. Lauren Boebert and the original lawsuit.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts