Wisconsin Teen’s COVID Post Protected by First Amendment: Judge

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Brett Ludwig, a federal district court judge in Milwaukee, ruled that a Wisconsin sheriff violated free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment when he asked a teen to remove an Instagram post about Covid-19 that “upset” local parents in March, 2020, reports The Guardian. The teen, 16-year-old Amyiah Cohoon, and her parents sued the sheriff’s department after a deputy threatened to arrest family members if Amyiah did not delete an Instagram post which described her experiences when possibly infected by Covid-19.

Judge Ludwig compared the case to famous free speech cases involving Vietnam war protesters, and ruled that the sheriff’s department clearly violated the teen’s rights. In his ruling, Ludwig wrote: “Defendants may have preferred to keep Marquette county residents ignorant to the possibility of COVID-19 in their community for a while longer, so they could avoid having to field calls from concerned citizens, but that preference did not give them authority to hunt down and eradicate inconvenient Instagram posts.”

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