The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued opinions in two cases involving First Amendment challenges to social media activity – Lindke v. Freed and O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier.

In Lindke, the City Manager of Port Huron, Michigan had a personal Facebook profile. He deleted comments from a commenter and the City Manager blocked the commenter from future posts on the City Manager’s personal Facebook page. The commenter sued the City Manager under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that the City Manager had violated his First Amendment rights. The commenter argued that he had the right to comment on the City Manager’s Facebook page because it was a public forum. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City Manager finding that his actions did not constitute state action under §1983 of the Civil Rights Act.

The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that a government official engages in state action only if that official (1) possesses the actual authority to speak on the government’s behalf and (2) purported to exercise that authority when the official spoke on social media. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Sixth Circuit to apply the test.

Practical Takeaways

In establishing the above test, the Supreme Court did not distinguish between government officials and employees. Therefore, government officials and employees may want to consider maintaining separate personal and official government social media pages.

For more information about this article, please contact Tressler attorney Jey Claudio at