The case centers on Danny Carter, who worked for Sheriff B.J. Roberts in Hampton, Va., where sheriff is an elected position.
Four years ago, Carter "liked" Roberts' opponent for sheriff on Facebook. He then got fired along with five other county employees who also supported Roberts' opponent.
Carter and the others who got fired filed a lawsuit claiming they got the ax for backing Roberts' opponent. They say Roberts brought his deputy sheriffs together and said, "Don't be getting on Facebook supporting my opponents," Virginia's Daily Press reported. (Roberts said they all got fired for performance issues, according to Bloomberg.)
In April 2012 a judge reportedly threw out the suit after finding "one click of a mouse" isn't protected speech.
A lawyer for Carter and an attorney for Facebook — which intervened on his behalf – will tell the federal appeals court in Virginia that a click of the mouse is in fact protected speech. Facebook made its argument in a brief quoted by the Daily Press:
"If Carter had stood on a street corner and announced, 'I like Jim Adams for Hampton Sheriff,' there would be no dispute that his statement was constitutionally protected speech. Carter made that very statement; the fact that he did it online, with a click of the computer's mouse, does not deprive Carter's speech of constitutional protection."
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