Air Force Academy Chapel

CIR Files Challenge to Air Force Ban of Facebook Critic

On August 27, the Center for Individual Rights filed suit against Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass for banning a retired Air Force pilot, Richard Rynearson, from an official government Facebook page because he criticized one of her posts.  Chief Bass violated Rynearson’s right to free speech by excluding him from a public forum based on his viewpoint.

In November, Chief Bass posted on an official Air Force Facebook page that “there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for each of YOU.”  Rynearson replied that he was thankful that other branches of the military were concentrating on warfare so that the Air Force could concentrate on making sure “we all feel good about ourselves” and that “nobody is offended or feels like a victim.” He also attached a link to an image of the Care Bears.  Within a few hours, he was banned from the Facebook page, and he has not been restored.

CIR filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. We are asking the court to declare that banning Rynearson from the government’s Facebook page violated his right to free speech and to order Chief Bass rescind Rynearson’s ban.