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On Wednesday, United States Circuit Judge William Traxler of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond decided that the use of the “Like” feature to show support for a candidate in an election is protected speech under the United States Constitution. The court issued its ruling in a lawsuit brought by former employees of a sheriff’s office who claimed that they lost their jobs because they backed their boss’s opponent by endorsing a campaign page on Facebook.
In making the ruling, the appeals court reversed a lower court judge who said that simply clicking the “Like” button does not amount to “a substantive statement” that deserves constitutional protection. In today’s ruling, Traxler commented that, “Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”