Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.53.48 AMThose who like to consistently post Facebook statuses about their kids’ deadbeat dads and back child support might want to refrain from that. Earlier this month, a New Jersey appellate court ruled a judge’s decision to ban a mom from ranting about her ex-husband and children on Facebook as constitutional.

The whole mess started back in 2011 when the mom – identified in court records by her initials HLM – tried to take her kids to Canada after losing custody of them. She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a kidnapping charge and was sentenced to probation, which included the condition to keep her family off of Facebook and her blog.

She didn’t listen.

And she kept right on ranting. Mom – who’s also diagnosed as bipolar – added the Book of Revelation, Jeffrey Dahmer, Satan, and Adolf Hitler to her posts. A judge called them “rambling, irrational, disturbing, bizarre.” In 2012, she tried to be slick and referred to her family as “Camelot,” but it was evident who she was talking about. So the judge found her in violation of her probation.

Mom appealed on the grounds that the ban violated her rights to free speech and due process. But the appeals court ruled that “the special condition was imposed with the purpose of advancing her rehabilitation, ‘namely, to deter her from engaging in behavior that is harmful to her victims and to lead a law-abiding life.’” In plain terms, the ban is specific and doesn’t stop her from blogging or posting about other topics on Facebook, so it’s really not unconstitutional.

Well, since the ban is so “specific,” since it only mentions Facebook and her blog, I wonder if ranting on Twitter and Instagram is allowed.

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  • sam

    The freedom of speech is not absolute; the Supreme Court has recognized several categories of speech that are excluded from the freedom, and it has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.

    • Rukyoftheyear

      Reasonable time, place ,and manner restrictions apply to CONDUCT related to the speech, but not the speech itself (i.e. picketing near a post office or blaring a horn in a quiet suburban town may be limited while the actual content of the speech may be subject to less regulation).

      Although some categories are not protected (i.e. fighting words), the Supreme Court has made it clear that judges cannot pick and choose the TOPICS that will be banned. (Thus, even if fighting words are not protected, the federal government gets wary of people who try to limit specific words and phrases or topics). To do so would allow the government to censor speech it does not like.

      I think the woman may have a case here.

      #firstamendment.

  • Anonin

    This is what happens when you keep teaching freedom of speech w/o boundaries people use it as an excuse for everything.