Turns out not everything a teenager posts on social media is accurate. That doesn’t mean it isn’t protected by the First Amendment. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
A Wisconsin teenager had a severe respiratory infection in the early days of the pandemic. She tested negative for COVID, although her attorney said she was told she might have missed the window for accurate testing. On Instagram, she posted photos of herself in a hospital bed with the caption “Winning the fight with Covid-19”. At the time, her county had only two confirmed cases of COVID, and the sheriff threatened her with arrest unless she removed it.
She sued for violation of her First Amendment rights. The sheriff argued the teenager’s post caused panic and distress, but the Court just ruled in her favor, saying that the sheriff’s claim that the office was acting for the greater good of the community does not insulate it from liability. According to the judge, “demanding a 16-year-old remove protected speech from her Instagram account is a First Amendment violation.”
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