Attorneys for four self-proclaimed atheists filed a new lawsuit on Tuesday claiming online censorship by state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, after their previous suit was tossed for failure to serve the state senator.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in October by American Atheists Inc., based in New Jersey, and by four Arkansans who claimed that their free-speech rights were violated when Rapert blocked them from his accounts on Twitter and Face-book. Rapert is the founder of Holy Ghost Ministries and one of the principal backers of the effort to place a monument of the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds.
Rapert, who is being represented by lawyers in Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office, had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Jan. 3, claiming that opposing attorneys had failed to serve him with notice of the federal lawsuit within the 90-day deadline. In response, the group’s attorneys offered to voluntarily dismiss the suit, which was accepted by Baker.
Philip Kaplan, a Little Rock attorney representing American Atheists, said last month that Matthew Campbell, the attorney originally hired by the group, had failed to serve Rapert and that he would simply start over with a new lawsuit.
On Tuesday, Kaplan said he had filed the new lawsuit without Campbell.
Campbell could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He also runs a left-leaning blog on Arkansas politics called Blue Hog Report.
“It’s unfortunate, but really it’s only a minor hiccup,” said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, a litigation counsel for American Atheists.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that the Twitter account run by President Donald Trump could not block people for criticizing his policies, though that decision is being appealed.
Print Headline: Atheists group files new suit alleging censorship