- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing the South Bend city council on behalf of its president over a social media policy approved earlier this month that the group alleges is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in South Bend contends the policy approved Dec. 9 by the South Bend Common Council and scheduled to go in force in February violates council members’ First Amendment rights.

The ordinance states council members should post only items that are “informative,” ”consider and verify all sources before posting” and post information that is “accurate.” The lawsuit states council President Oliver Davis reserves the right to display opinions and other matters and also wants to “express and allow opinions that are not necessarily factually accurate.”

ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk said the ordinance effectively stifles council members’ right to free speech.

“Elected officials retain their First Amendment rights,” he said. “The ordinance simply goes too far in trying to impinge on these rights.”

Davis said he doesn’t believe the council should pass laws that violate the Constitution.

A spokesman for Cristal Brisco, a city attorney, said she was out of the office Monday and unavailable for comment. Council member Tim Scott, who authored the policy, did not return a telephone message left on his cellphone Monday by The Associated Press.

The policy was passed after some residents complained earlier this year when council member Henry Davis Jr. posted an explicit photo on Facebook in January. He was criticized later for sharing a tweet that made a disparaging remark about Republicans.

Oliver Davis and Henry Davis Jr., who are not related, were the only two members to vote against the policy.

The lawsuit seeks to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional and seeks a preliminary injunction to stop the ordinance from going into effect. It also seeks personal costs for Oliver Davis, attorney fees and “all other proper relief.”

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