CINCINNATI (AP) — A state senator from Ohio has agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a lawsuit after a constituent was blocked on his official Facebook page.
Republican Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker did not admit any wrongdoing under the agreement, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported , but he will pay damages and attorney’s fees.
He was accused of violating Anthony Fambry’s free speech rights when he blocked him over comments about Uecker’s vote on an abortion bill. Fambry, a Batavia resident, said the settlement is a win.
"The message is simple: Public servants can’t silence us," he said. "Just because they don’t like what we say, they can’t silence us."
Uecker cannot block Fambry on the page again unless he threatens or harasses the lawmaker.
The settlement will end when Uecker leaves office.
Ohio Senate GOP spokesman John Fortney said Uecker unblocked Fambry within hours of the lawsuit being filed. He said the issue wasn’t worth taking to court long term.
While this was one of the first cases of its kind in Ohio, similar complaints have been filed across the country.
A judge in Wisconsin ruled GOP lawmakers violated free speech rights when they blocked a liberal group on Twitter. And a federal court judge in New York ruled President Donald Trump could not block people on Twitter.