LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas state senator will probably be required to unblock critics from his social media accounts beneath a settlement a nationwide atheists’ group mentioned it reached with the state on Wednesday.
American Atheists introduced the settlement in its federal lawsuit in opposition to Arkansas over Republican Sen. Jason Rapert’s social media. Based on a replica of the settlement that Rapert signed final week, the lawmaker will probably be required to take away any restrictions on his Fb and Twitter accounts.
“It is a victory for freedom of speech and equality for atheists,” mentioned Geoffrey T. Blackwell, Litigation Counsel for American Atheists, mentioned in a press release launched by the group.
Rapert mentioned he didn’t discriminate in opposition to constituents and wasn’t admitting any wrongdoing by signing the settlement.
“The chance to settle this lawsuit with none admission of legal responsibility or wrongdoing saves time, cash and energy for all involved,” he mentioned in a press release.
The lawmaker has sponsored a number of abortion restrictions in addition to the legislation that required the state to permit a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Rapert ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor earlier this yr.
If Rapert blocks any of the plaintiffs earlier than Jan. 1, when he leaves workplace, he’ll must doc the idea for that restriction. The settlement additionally requires the state to pay $16,291 to American Atheists for bills associated to the lawsuit.
The group had sued on behalf of its members and 4 Arkansas residents who had been blocked from Rapert’s accounts. The plaintiffs had argued that Rapert’s accounts had been a public discussion board that must be accessible to them. The plaintiffs argued that Rapert had blocked them after they criticized his place on a number of points, together with the Ten Commandments monument.
Rapert had argued that he had a First Modification proper to close out these he mentioned had been personally attacking and bullying him. A trial had been set for October within the case.
A spokeswoman for Lawyer Common Leslie Rutledge, whose workplace represented Rapert, mentioned the lawmaker was sued in his official capability as a state official and didn’t remark additional.