U.S. Rep. Boebert Blocks Constituent on Twitter, Could a Lawsuit be Next?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From the Colorado Times Recorder’s Sean Price:

On Wednesday, during the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, newly-elected U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) blocked one of her constituents, former state Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo). Elected officials ranging from President Trump to a Colorado state senator have been successfully sued for blocking constituents on social media, which violates their First Amendment rights by severing their ability to participate in political discourse.

The tweet that got Buentello blocked pointed out Boebert’s hypocrisy in condemning the violence at the Capitol by listing quotes from Boebert, who recently joked that the Second Amendment was intended for “hunting tyrants,” encouraging the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was rigged. During her speech on the House floor Boebert also claimed the protestors outside the building as her own constituents.

Buentello believes Boebert’s decision to block her is more than an infringement of her First Amendment rights, but also as an indictment of Boebert’s ability to govern. Buentello explained that there is a difference between campaigning and governing.

“The bottom line is that Boebert works for her constituents,” Buentello said. “I should know as an elected state representative and it’s not easy, but it is what I signed up for. And I darn sure didn’t block people or step on people’s First Amendment rights. People showed up at the town hall I held in Otero County and they screamed and spit on me. This woman? This big wannabe cowgirl who carries a Glock on her hip? She can’t even handle Twitter.”

Elected officials blocking constituents on social media has become a contentious topic of debate in recent years, both because of the rise of social media use and because of Trump’s continued reliance on Twitter once he bacame President. General legal consensus and precedent is that social media pages run by the government or by a public official to conduct public business are protected as limited public forums by the First Amendment.

According to Mark Silverstein, Legal Director at the ACLU of Colorado, Buentello may have a meritorious lawsuit against Boebert.

“A federal district court held that President Trump violated the First Amendment when he responded to criticism by blocking particular constituents from Twitter, and the 2nd Circuit Court of appeals affirmed the ruling,” Silverstein said, “Similarly, ACLU of Colorado sued former state Senator Ray Scott for blocking constituents on Facebook. When a public official uses social media to allow exchanges of views with constituents, the First Amendment forbids blocking particular critics.”

The one argument that Boebert might fall back on is that she blocked Buentello from her personal account, not her official representative one. But since Boebert allows exchanges of views with constituents and publishes policy and ideological content on her personal account, which with nearly 400,000 followers is over ten times larger than her official one, it is considered similar to a town hall and therefore protected by the First Amendment.

“I think that it’s ironic that someone who screams into microphones for a living and so clearly cares about the Second Amendment so clearly does not understand the First, or is clearly contemptuous of the First Amendment,” Buentello said.

Buentello also pointed to Boebert’s pattern of disobeying the law. Boebert has a history of not showing up to court dates, of ignoring laws designed to protect juveniles, and of being arrested.

“Frankly, I think that she believes that she is above the law,” Buentello said. “We’ve seen this with her multiple arrests and her subpoena. I don’t know if she is in over her head and woefully unprepared for this job and the spotlight that it comes with. But the bottom line is that this is her job. Welcome to public office. Welcome to accountability.”

Boebert’s office did not return a phone call requesting a comment on her blocking Buentello.

36 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. High Valley Lurker says:

    “big wannabe cowgirl”? I’ve only seen her in photos, but she doesn’t strike me as particularly ‘big’. More like the typical gun-packer who is overcompensating for physical shortcomings would be a better description. Can we say “little wannabe cowgirl”, instead? Or are all the rest of the local Republicans all basketball players?

    Of course, she’s now leading the life of luxury in DC as an overpaid Congressperson being wined and dined by lobbyists. She’ll probably be a ‘big wannabe cowgirl’ by the time of the next election. Hope that gun-belt can expand a few notches after those big, rich, lobbyist-funded, tax-deductible, expense-account meals?

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Have you spoken with any freshman Congressperson about their time in DC? 

      Gross pay of $174,000, I think.  Has to buy insurance on the DC exchange.  Has to fund a retirement account if that is desired.  Likely to be working 50-60 (out of session) or 60-70 hours per week (when in session), plus more for fundraising.  Housing costs there — rent average as of 12/20 is $1,925 for a 1 bedroom, $2,616 for 2 bedrooms? 

      Definitely not poor, but not a life of luxury, either. 

  2. Dionaea says:

    While I like to believe that Colorado Pols has the best of intentions in shining light on the inanity of Qbert I am frustrated that their frequent posts on her amount to nothing more than free media attention that will assure her renomination in the next CD3 republican primary and subsequent re-election.  This is exactly what happened in 2016 when Trump received billions of dollars in free media attention to overwhelm Hilary Clinton.  The voters in CD3 apparently love this.  If they wanted a dull straightforward republican sycophant they would have renominated Tipton.  Instead, they nominated Qbert and she won easily.

    Before giving Qbert more free media attention for her adoring fans I wish they would consider giving equal time to sane congress people.  I appreciated the brief mention of Joe Neguse and their recent interview with Diana DeGette but their frequent posts on Qbert are starting to overwhelm this site.  If I'm not mistaken, Ed Perlmutter was also re-elected?  What has Jason Crow been up to lately?   Please just keep in mind that Qbert's CD3 voters love this kind of attention and Colorado Pols appears to be shamelessly promoting her – I suppose for the entertainment value.

    End of rant.  I will go back to lurking.

    • 2Jung2Die says:

      I hear you, but doubt that the broad range of conservative voters in the 3rd really spend any time reading Colorado Pols or care that much what it does. There are a few regulars posting here from the 3rd, but I feel really safe saying they won't be voting Booga-bert in 2022. Still, probably not a bad idea to give a little time to Jason Crow once in a while!

    • gertie97 says:

      Not to worry about free media for Calamity Jane. Every instance turns off some Republicans who haven't lost their minds.

    • Duke Cox says:

      Hey…thanks for chiming in.

      I agree with your point about giving pixels to our pistol packing princess. It is, I am quite sure, primarily for the entertainment value that Alva mentions this vacuous, posturing, pinhead.

      I will have to tell you, though, that it may simply constitute a kind gesture on Alvas’ part. You see, we are kind of accustomed to occasionally hearing from a couple of MAGAt posters. It gives us the target at which so many of us enjoy throwing darts, but we haven’t heard from them lately.

      Keeping the laughs coming is important to boost readership. And what is more comical than our very own Calamity Jane? The rootin’est, tootin’est, gun totin’est, knucklehead around.

      We should probably have fun with her before she turns bitter and starts shootin’.

       

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      How about they skip the low hanging fruit and do some thoughtful policy pieces on Joe Neguse proposals.  He actually knows how to create legislation that has legal stuff and works.  Skip spotlight on insanity and focus your political lens on competence and relevance.

  3. Golden Girl says:

    Lauren, by whatever moniker you apply, is a air head who never had an original thought worth repeating.  Personally, I find her an embarrassment and hope we spend as little time as possible giving her the time of day.  I agree with Dionaea, let's cover Jason Crow a bit more.  Now he's someone worth quoting and covering on CPols.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      I’ve lived in Colorado for over 30 years, and in that time I recall the most common and constant refrain from the West Slope as being something along the lines of, “we don’t get near enough of the attention and coverage we deserve from Denver and the front range out here” . . .

      . . . Q-bie’s only been in office for less than a week and now already the tune out west is, “please, can’t you just leave us the fuck alone and ignore us until this terrible shame goes away”??

      wink

    • notaskinnycook says:

      I agree, Golden Girl. And the photo of Crow above the fold in Thursday's Denver Post is a Pulitzer contender.

  4. JohnInDenver says:

    Here you go: 

    “When I was an Army Ranger, I did what an Army ranger is supposed to do,” Crow said. “I never thought I’d be in a situation like this as a U.S. Representative in the U.S. Capitol.”

    A photo of Crow crouched on the ground comforting fellow Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania) became one of the iconic images of an unprecedented day in U.S. history, where a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    Crow recounted how police used furniture to help barricade the doors surrounding the House floor after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of leadership were ushered out of the building.

    “There was about a 15-minute period where the rioters were trying to ram the doors down, breaking the glass,” Crow said.

    In an interview with CNN, Crow said that he instructed other members of the House to remove their pins so it would be harder for the mob to identify them. He said he was prepared to use a pen in his pocket as a weapon.

    While police worked to clear a path to escort the people in the room outside of the Capitol, Crow said he helped other members take masks used to protect them from tear gas out of their packages and showed them how to use them.

    “We were getting ready to fight if necessary,” Crow said.

    He said police were able to push the rioters back enough for him and other members of the House to be escorted out of the Capitol through the tunnels. They later returned to vote and confirm Biden’s electoral college win.

    Wild described the scene as one of “confusion and chaos” and said since she had served in combat, she wasn’t prepared.

    “Thankfully I had Jason Crow right behind me bringing some sense of calm to the situation,” she said.

    Crow, whose ordeal was profiled in national publications including the Rolling Stone on Thursday, said he hasn’t had time to fully reflect on what Wednesday’s events mean.

    “I’m safe now,” he said. “But there was a little moment when there was a question.”

    Crow called what happened an "attempt to overthrow the Capitol" that can be blamed on Trump and the people who support him. 

    "We have a lot of really deep thinking and hard work as a nation to figure out a path out of this," Crow said.

    • NOV GOP meltdown says:

      I understand Crow has garnered a ton of media and exposure out of this. However, if you had your choice between being next to an unarmed Jason Crow, or an armed Lauren Boebert, while the Capitol building was being attacked by an angry mob, which would you choose ?

      OK, unfair question. Happy Friday polsters !

      • Voyageur says:

        I'd choose Crow.  Two-gun Tootsie would probably be part of the lynch mob!

        • gertie97 says:

          Crow would be my pick, too. I’ve seen no evidence CJ is a competent handler of the firearms she loves to pack.

          I’m still waiting to see where she was during and after the attack. My guess is she cowered under her chair until the all-clear, then hustled to the ladies’ room to attend to her soiled underwear.

           

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Who knew Jason and the rest of the members of Congress would be in an active shooter drill at their place of work?

      • notaskinnycook says:

        Maybe now they'll have a little more compassion toward kids who've been through far more drills (and "this is not a drills") than should ever have been necessary, and think about changing some laws to prevent future incidents.

         

  5. kickshot says:

    I have gotten to the point that I really look forward to a Thomas Edsall NYT Op-Ed. His most recent was about free speech. Well worth a read but here’s one well-worn nugget that applies to today’s internet militias:

     

    Before the advent of the internet, Robert C. Post, a Yale law professor and former dean noted,

    “People were always crazy, but they couldn’t find each other, they couldn’t talk and disperse their craziness. Now we are confronting a new phenomenon and we have to think about how we regulate that in a way which is compatible with people’s freedom to form public opinion.”

    “The formation of public opinion is out of control because of the way the internet is forming groups and dispersing information freely,” 

    If you want to read more:

    Have Trump’s Lies Wrecked Free Speech?

    A debate has broken out over whether the once-sacrosanct constitutional protection of the First Amendment has become a threat to democracy.

    We are deep in the era of “cheap speech”

  6. MichaelBowman says:

    This has Nutter’s fingerprints all over it. Bri defeated his bff Judy Reyher for that seat. He’s never gotten over it. Now that he has some second-degree influence with Qbert he’s gonna show Bri who’s boss. 

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Yeeeesh.

      Has anyone ever seen him wash his hands? . . .

    • unnamed says:

      Actually, Reyher was beaten in the primary by Don (Deadbeat Dad) Bendell, who was beaten by Bri.  Though, Bri would have beaten Nutlid's favorite racist (after Trump) if she became the nominee.  

      Otherwise, your theory checks out.  Only because Nutter would be that petty to think something like this could make him feel like more than the pathetic little man child that he is.

  7. JohnInDenver says:

    Further good Twitter news … @RealDonaldTrump is banned from Twitter.

  8. spaceman2021 says:

    She's blocking, on her official account, comments based on viewpoint.  Viewpoint discrimination is the biggest no-no in political speech cases.  A lawsuit would have a chance (and in a just world would prevail), and if it does, fees can be awarded against the defendant.  

  9. Levi says:

    As the Trump Circus draws to a close, I think it's time that Bobo The Clown went home.

    She needs to resign, or be recalled.  It's clear that she was in on insurrection, and I think it's also clear that she hates America and democracy.

    I don't think either will happen, unfortunately, but they need to.

    • gertie97 says:

      There is no provision for recall of federal elected officials. We'll have to rely on the old-fashioned way, elections in two years. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the Calamity Jane circus.

      • Matt A. Harry says:

        As per Gengis: The only way to get a member of Congress booted early is expulsion. U.S. Const. art I, § 5 (" Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.").   I think the House should move forward with expulsion. We don't have 2/3s but we should get a vote and have it on record. 

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