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Professor Sues U of Oregon Employee Over Twitter Block

August 18, 2022

A Portland State University professor is suing a University of Oregon employee who blocked him on Twitter, KCBY11 reported.

Bruce Gilley, a political science professor, accused Tova Stabin, communications manager of the university's Division of Equity and Inclusion, of violating his First Amendment rights by blocking him on the division’s Twitter account. Stabin also manages the office’s social media accounts.

The office posted a graphic in June as part of a series of posts that provided phrases or prompts on how to interrupt racism. The June prompt read, “It sounded like you just said [blank]. Is that what you really meant?”

Gilley quote tweeted that post and said, “Fill in the blank for the @uoregon ‘Racism Interrupter’ machine. @UOequity My entry: …you just said ‘all men are created equal.’”

That post got him blocked, according to the lawsuit.

“Tova Stabin blocked him from the Equity Division’s Twitter account, because he promotes a colorblind viewpoint with which she, and her employer, disagree,” Gilley’s lawsuit says. “Stabin’s blocking constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination, and it violates the First Amendment.”

Two other Twitter users are blocked from the account, according to the lawsuit.

Gilley is a known critic of the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion principles and efforts, according to the lawsuit, and has previously declined to sign a Black Lives Matter statement.

Gilley is seeking an order to permanently unblock him and to prevent the account from blocking other users, $17.91 in damages and money to cover attorney fees. The Institute for Free Speech is representing Gilley.

“Even if he were to be temporarily unblocked, or use an alias, Bruce Gilley remains concerned that he could be blocked again in the future for expressing a viewpoint critical of the ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion, thereby inviting self-censorship,” the lawsuit says.

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Katherine Knott

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