Facebook Censorship in Newaygo County
Lori Shepler is an animal welfare advocate who opposes the practice of declawing cats and operates a website and Facebook page dedicated to that purpose. Cheryl McCloud operates a non-profit animal rescue shelter in Newaygo County.
Shepler contacted McCloud, expressed her opposition to McCloud’s practice of declawing cats, and posted references to McCloud’s cat declawing activities on Facebook. There was no allegation that Shepler threatened McCloud or her animal shelter. But other persons, some of whom follow Shepler’s website and Facebook page, contacted McCloud and her associates, expressing their opposition to declawing cats, sometimes with inflammatory rhetoric.
In December 2017, McCloud persuaded a judge in Newaygo County to issue a personal protection order prohibiting Shepler from continuing to post online about McCloud or her shelter. In March 2018, the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Shepler’s motion to vacate the order, explaining that the First Amendment protects Shepler’s speech, and the speech of others cannot justify censoring Shepler. The case settled.
(McCloud v. Shepler; ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman; Cooperating Attorney Michael Nelson.)