In the rough-and-tumble world of Facebook, Santa Fe’s Aaron Borrego thinks he absorbed an illegal block from District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.
Borrego, 36, filed a lawsuit against the First Judicial district attorney this week, contending his free speech rights were violated because Carmack-Altwies’ office removed his comments and blocked him from its Facebook page.
In comments on Facebook, Borrego had protested Carmack-Altwies’ decision in May to allow pre-prosecution diversion for protesters who pulled down the Soldiers’ Monument on the Plaza. He was blocked on the District Attorney’s Office’s page by July 1, the lawsuit says.
Borrego, a real estate investor, filed the lawsuit in First Judicial District Court. Carmack-Altwies is the district attorney for Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.
Borrego said Thursday afternoon that, as a native Santa Fe resident, he found it “extremely disturbing to see anybody destroy our local Plaza and culture.” He said pulling down the obelisk merited felony charges.
Among other things, he had posted on the Facebook page a question as to whether the district attorney would provide pre-prosecution diversion “for an alleged shooter,” the lawsuit says.
But Borrego said his lawsuit is about getting blocked by the district attorney’s Facebook account because he was critical of her.
“This is a freedom of speech lawsuit,” he said in an interview. “This is one of our rights that’s not supposed to be infringed upon at any level.”
The District Attorney’s Office said it hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and wouldn’t comment.
Borrego’s attorney, Kenneth Stalter, said similar lawsuits have been successful elsewhere. In one, he said, federal courts didn’t allow President Donald Trump to block critics from his Twitter account because he used it as a public forum to convey his notions. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated that ruling after Trump was voted out of office.
Asked about Trump’s removal from Twitter, Stalter said that was the choice of a private company, not a public official’s decision to remove a critic’s comments from a public forum.
That, the lawsuit says, is “impermissible viewpoint-based restriction of the freedom of speech.”
The lawsuit calls for compensation of unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. It also asks for a preliminary injunction against the block against Borrego and a permanent order to unblock him.