Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

Petitioners Christopher and Kimberly Garnier are parents of children in the Poway Unified School District in the city of Poway, California, just north of San Diego. The Garniers frequently posted comments critical of the District’s Board of Trustees on the social media pages of the Trustees, including Respondents Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff and T.J. Zane. For their school-board campaigns, O’Connor-Ratcliff and Zane created personal Facebook and Twitter pages, which they updated with their official titles once elected and continued to use to post about school-district business and news. The Trustees began to hide or delete the critical and often repetitive comments by the Garniers, and then around October 2017, they blocked the Garniers from their social media pages.

After the Trustees blocked the Garniers, the Garniers sued them, arguing that their social media pages constitute public fora and that by blocking them, the Trustees violated their First Amendment rights. The district court granted declaratory and injunctive relief to the Garniers but found that the Trustees’ had qualified immunity from the damages claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.


  1. Does a public official engage in state action subject to the First Amendment by blocking an individual from the official’s personal social media account, which the official uses to communicate about job-related matters with the public?


  1. The Ninth Circuit’s judgment—that 42 U.S.C. § 1983’s state-action requirement was satisfied because of the “close nexus” between petitioners’ social media pages and their positions as public officials—is vacated, and the case is remanded in light of Lindke v. Freed.