AP

Settlement requires Arkansas senator to unblock critics

Aug 17, 2022, 4:01 PM | Updated: 4:13 pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas state senator will be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts under a settlement a national atheists’ group said it reached with the state on Wednesday.

American Atheists announced the settlement in its federal lawsuit against Arkansas over Republican Sen. Jason Rapert’s social media. According to a copy of the settlement that Rapert signed last week, the lawmaker will be required to remove any restrictions on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“This is a victory for freedom of speech and equality for atheists,” said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, Litigation Counsel for American Atheists, said in a statement released by the group.

Rapert said he didn’t discriminate against constituents and wasn’t admitting any wrongdoing by signing the settlement.

“The opportunity to settle this lawsuit without any admission of liability or wrongdoing saves time, money and effort for all concerned,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker has sponsored several abortion restrictions as well as the law that required the state to allow a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Rapert ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor earlier this year.

If Rapert blocks any of the plaintiffs before Jan. 1, when he leaves office, he’ll have to document the basis for that restriction. The settlement also requires the state to pay $16,291 to American Atheists for expenses related to the lawsuit.

The group had sued on behalf of its members and four Arkansas residents who had been blocked from Rapert’s accounts. The plaintiffs had argued that Rapert’s accounts were a public forum that should be accessible to them. The plaintiffs argued that Rapert had blocked them after they criticized his position on several issues, including the Ten Commandments monument.

Rapert had argued that he had a First Amendment right to shut out those he said were personally attacking and bullying him. A trial had been set for October in the case.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, whose office represented Rapert, said the lawmaker was sued in his official capacity as a state official and did not comment further.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who […]

6 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

7 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

7 hours ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

17 hours ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

3 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Settlement requires Arkansas senator to unblock critics