Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been sued by at least two Twitter users who say that her blocking them from reading her tweets is a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech protections, Yahoo News reports. It’s the same situation that Donald Trump has faced, and a court has told Trump that he can’t block people on Twitter, either.
The freshman New York Democrat Representative has used Twitter’s “block” feature to prevent at least two people, likely dozens if not hundreds or even thousands more, from reading her tweets and responding to them. It’s a feature that millions of Twitter users the world over use to keep trolls and haters away from their posts.
But for American politicians, there’s a wrinkle: the First Amendment. Though written 200 years before Twitter became a thing, the First Amendment says that an American politician cannot block people from Twitter, or else they violate the First Amendment’s free speech protections. At least, that’s what two courts have ruled. And the politician in question was Donald Trump.
As The Hill reports, several Twitter users who had been blocked by Trump sued on First Amendment grounds, and a court agreed. The Trump administration appealed, and just this week an appeals court sided with the lower court, ruling that the POTUS cannot block people on Twitter, else he violates their First Amendment rights.
Now, Twitter users blocked by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have sued, and at least two cited the Trump case in their suits.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 10, 2019
One of the blocked users is New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who was reportedly blocked by Ocasio-Cortez (or someone on her team) when he criticized the Congresswoman for comparing ICE detention facilities to concentration camps. In his lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Hikind cited the case against Trump.
“This very practice has been litigated with regard to President Donald Trump blocking individuals on Twitter, and has recently been found unconstitutional,” Hikind wrote.
The law applies to socialists just as it does to capitalists.
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) July 10, 2019
Similarly blocked user Joseph Saladino tweeted that “Trump is not allowed to block people, will the standards apply equally?”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has blocked any other Twitter users besides Hikind and Saladino. She has, as of this writing, 4.6 million Twitter followers. Also unclear, as of this writing, is if any other American politicians have blocked Twitter users. It’s almost certainly happened, considering the number of office holders at every level of government, and the tens of millions of people who use Twitter.
As of this writing, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not publicly responded to this lawsuit.