Berwyn Alderman Scott Lennon Sued for First Amendment Violations for Blocking Constituents on Social Media in Retaliation for their Expression of Opposing Viewpoints
Berwyn residents Luz Chavez and Stephen Taylor have filed a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that Scott Lennon, alderman of Berwyn’s First Ward, is violating their First Amendment rights by blocking them from his Facebook Page. Chavez and Taylor are activists and advocates who have criticized Alderman Lennon and his political party, the Democratic Citizens of Berwyn, and were blocked in retaliation for their expression of opposing political viewpoints. They seek an injunction requiring Alderman Lennon to restore their access to his Facebook page and prohibiting content-based regulation of speech on his official Facebook Page.
“Our elected public servants use Facebook for public business as well as a community forum,” says Plaintiff Stephen Taylor. “Facebook enables ordinary citizens to speak directly to their government representatives and engage in dialogue about issues of public interest. All residents of our community should be allowed to benefit from this public forum. However, Alderman Lennon has decided only to allow those who agree with him to participate in the conversation.”
Alderman Lennon uses his official Facebook Page (facebook.com/scottlennonfor1stward) to communicate with his constituents about a variety of government functions and to solicit feedback from members of the community on matters of public interest including proposed developments, local crime and upcoming city council votes. Hundreds of constituents participate in the comments sections on his posts, expressing opinions, asking questions, and engaging in debate.
“We are bringing this lawsuit to ensure public servants in Berwyn respect the constitutional rights of all of their constituents,” says Plaintiff Luz Chavez. “Most of the people blocked on Lennon’s government Facebook page are community activists, three from Rizoma Collective, progressive political organization I volunteer with. Ald. Lennon’s pattern of using his political power to suppress dissent is particularly dangerous, as Mayor Lovero chose Lennon as his party’s next mayoral candidate for the 2025 election.”
The lawsuit is one of many around the country in which courts are considering the constitutional implications of public officials’ social media use.
Note: Plaintiff Luz Chavez volunteers for WhyBerwyn.net. The press release was written by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.