A New York Times article recently mentioned that a US immigration judge has prohibited a non-US-citizen from speaking on social media, apparently as a condition of release from detention.

But the federal immigration judge Charles R. Conroy ruled this week that Ms. Sorokin was no longer such a threat — provided she wears an ankle bracelet. She will also be barred from using social media, including the accounts she already has.

How is this ability to ban people from publishing in a particular place or kind of place to be squared with free speech rights? Is it:

  1. US law does not actually recognize or protect a right to free speech by non-citizens, so while this would be illegal to do to a citizen it is not illegal here.
  2. US law does not prevent the government from cutting deals with people where they "voluntarily" restrict their speech and it "voluntarily" stops locking them up when it might otherwise be allowed to. Or from then locking them up again if they go back on the deal.
  3. There's something in the judge's ruling that justifies this particular restriction on free speech in this particular case, such as it being reasonably necessary to protect against the person committing a crime. (This would make a lot more sense in, say, a libel case than an immigration case.)

Or is it something else?

  • Ostensibly, Ms. Sorokin voluntarily agreed to this restriction as part of the release agreement. She could say no and remain in detention.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


The NYT article implies that she has used social media in the past to get her victims to believe her fake back story.

She is being released from detention, and the restriction on her using social media is not tied to her expressing a particular viewpoint.

Courts have repeatedly held that the Government can justify incidental limitations on First Amendment freedoms if it furthers an important or substantial governmental interest; if the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and if the incidental restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest ( U.S. v. O'Brien, 391 US 367 - Supreme Court 1968).

One such compelling interest is the effective administration of criminal justice (U.S. v. Spilotro, 786 F. 2d 808 - Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 1986). For instance, speech restrictions can be tied to the purpose of preventing a defendant from committing further crimes while released.

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