Judge Rules Against Woman Banned from Writing about Her Family on Facebook
A New Jersey woman banned from writing about her husband and children on Facebook and other public venues in 2011 has lost an appeal based on her First Amendment rights. The appellate judge found the ban sufficiently restrictive, as it protected her children, whom she tried to abduct after losing custody.
According to the Star-Ledger, the judge that banned her from writing about her family on social media did so to prevent her children from at some point seeing her posts about them. A ban on posting online was one of the conditions under which the judge dropped a kidnapping charge after the mother, whose name is not public, attempted to take her children with her to Canada after losing custody of them.
She also agreed to psychiatric evaluation and therapy, but never received therapy and instead took to Facebook to express her frustration. Her posts often included, the paper notes, mentions of "the Book of Revelations, Jeffrey Dahmer, Satan and Adolph Hitler." Her ex-husband's attorney argued that the posts were "frightening" and could hurt their children, an argument that led the judge during her initial legal battle after the kidnapping to ban her from posting about their family only. She was free to post about any other topics.
The mother has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is a former patent lawyer and electrical engineer. The New York Daily News adds that her arguments in court against the Facebook ban were not only that they hindered her First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but that she was also denied her right to publish commentary on events as "the press." She also argued that the ban was a violation of her due process rights because it was too "vague," which the judge disagreed with, as the specific topic and a narrowly tailored reason to keep her from writing about it were given. After the ban, she began posting about her family using the code name Camelot, which was insufficient for the court to determine that she had adhered to the ban.
The court also deemed the interests of her children superior to her interest in using Facebook to behave as "the press" by writing bizarre posts about her family and the aforementioned topics. The mother represented herself in court during the appeal.