First Amendment Protects Right to 'Like': Court

Sheriff allegedly let workers go over Facebook posts
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2013 8:32 AM CDT
First Amendment Protects Right to 'Like': Court
The Facebook logo is displayed outside of Facebook's new headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The Founding Fathers, it seems, ensured our right to freedom of the press, freedom of assembly—and the freedom to "like." A federal judge yesterday ruled that the Facebook thumbs-up is part of our constitutionally protected free speech, CNN reports. It's the "Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard," said US Circuit Judge William Traxler. His decision followed a lower court's ruling that "liking" was "insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection."

The case centered on six employees of the Hampton Sheriff's Office in Virginia. They backed a candidate for sheriff who was running against their current boss, and some made their views known in the form of "likes" and Facebook posts; all lost their jobs. Two of them said they were let go because they "liked" the opposing candidate's profile; they also left comments on his page. Incumbent Sheriff BJ Roberts reportedly told employee Daniel Carter, "You made your bed, and now you're going to lie in it—after the election, you're gone." Roberts won the election and didn't rehire Carter; other employees were also dropped. (More First Amendment stories.)

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