Social Media Access is a First Amendment Right

By Samantha Grant

The Supreme Court has ruled that a North Carolina law banning sex offenders from using social media is unconstitutional.

The case brought before the Court, Packingham v. North Carolina, focused on one particular sex offender who had posted on Facebook regarding a traffic ticket.  But North Carolina has prosecuted more than 1,000 people under this law.

The Court found that the law restricts speech in a way that violates the First Amendment.  In his opinion, Justice Kennedy acknowledged the critical importance of social media to communication and access to information in today’s world:

“North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what for many are the principle sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge.”

Justice Kennedy went on to discuss how all people protected by the First Amendment have the right to public access where they can speak and listen, and that social media is one of the biggest platforms in doing so.


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