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Mom can be banned from ranting on Facebook, court rules

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Reuters

A state appellate court has ruled that a mother's rights were not violated by a judge's decision that barred her from ranting about her children and ex-husband on Facebook.

The judge's 2011 order was a special condition of the woman's probation stemming from an attempt to kidnap her two children and take them to Canada, the Courier News reported.

The restriction came after the woman's ex-husband's family and Hunterdon County prosecutors argued that her Facebook postings were frightening, saying they referenced the Book of Revelation, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, Satan and Adolf Hitler.

"You can talk about what you want to talk about, but don't reference (your husband) or the children," the judge told her. "That's off limits."

But in 2012, the mother returned to Facebook and began using a code word, "Camelot," to refer to her family. The judge found that the posting violated her probation.

She appealed, claiming the order violated her rights of free speech and due process because it was too vague.

The appellate panel disagreed, finding the order was specific and didn't prevent her from making posts about other issues. The court said the special condition was imposed with the purpose of advancing her rehabilitation.

The woman, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was arrested in May 2011 after she tried to take her children to Canada in violation of a custody order. She eventually pleaded guilty to interference with custody, and prosecutors dropped the kidnapping charge.

The woman wasn't identified in court documents in order to protect the identities of her family members.

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