Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he is prepared to fight a possible free speech lawsuit threatened Wednesday by a civil liberties group on behalf of about 70 Facebook users who have been blocked from posting on the congressman's campaign page.
“I’m on 100 percent solid legal ground. That Facebook account is political. It is paid for by my campaign committee. It’s the same as having people write negative comments on a campaign brochure and sending that out," King said. “They can get their own Facebook account and attack me, rather than me paying for it.”
In a letter Wednesday to King, officials of the New York Civil Liberties Union said they would take legal action if the Facebook users were not added and allowed to post comments to King's page by May 3.
The NYCLU argues that, similar to a federal lawsuit filed by seven Twitter users blocked by President Donald Trump, King’s Facebook page constitutes a public forum because he uses it to make announcements, weigh in on policy issues and correspond with constituents.
“Silencing these voices is an affront to the First Amendment and to the core values of our democracy. If you do not unban these constituents promptly, we intend to file a federal lawsuit to vindicate their rights,” Christopher Dunn, NYCLU legal director, wrote to King.
Dunn compared the blocking of users on a politician's Facebook page to ejecting a constituent from a town hall meeting.
About 54,000 followers are on King's Facebook page. He said he pays Facebook $50 to $100 for each post and the expenditures are reported to the Federal Election Commission.
King said he posts official government news on Twitter, where "people attack me all the time and no comments are ever taken down."