Judge dismisses lawsuit from ex-state employee who was fired for Facebook posts

Published on: August 18, 2022 6:00 AM EDT|Updated on: August 18, 2022 1:12 PM EDT

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Larry Hogan and other top state officials from an ex-employee who claims he was wrongly fired for controversial Facebook posts.

Arthur “Mac” Love IV had worked as deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives from 2015 until he was let go in August 2020. The office oversees the state’s ethnic and cultural commissions, religious outreach and community service programs.

Love had posted statements and memes on Facebook in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager who was accused of shooting three men — two fatally — during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis. following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.

Love posted memes that included a picture showing Rittenhouse cleaning graffiti with the caption: “I’m grateful that conservatives are rallying behind this kid. He genuinely seems like a good person.”

Another meme posted by Love mocked “liberals” for calling Rittenhouse a white supremacist.

Hogan’s administration was quick to condemn the post and end Love’s employment. The director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives said the “divisive images and statements are inconsistent with the mission and core values of the Office of Community Initiatives.” And a spokeswoman for Hogan said Love’s posts were “obviously totally inappropriate.”

Love quickly defended his social media posts and said they should be protected as free speech under the First Amendment. Nearly a year later, in August 2021, he filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming he was discriminated against.

In the lawsuit, Love described himself as “an exemplary and dedicated public servant” who was posting in a Facebook group in his personal capacity on his private time.

Love’s firing was due to “viewpoint-based discrimination,” he claimed in the lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge Julie R. Rubin on Tuesday granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on multiple legal grounds, including that government officials are immune from legal liability for official actions that don’t involve malice or negligence. Rubin also found that most of the officials Love sued — including the governor — weren’t proven to be directly involved in his firing.

“Plaintiff fails to allege any facts pertaining to action or inaction by Governor Hogan that relates to the alleged deprivation of Plaintiff’s rights under any count of the Complaint,” the judge wrote.

Love, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. A call to a number listed for his home in Crofton went unanswered and messages to email addresses associated with him bounced back.

The governor’s office did not immediately offer a response or statement on the ruling.

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