First Amendment attorneys warn Ocasio-Cortez: ‘You can’t block Twitter users’
By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) We already knew that young Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was thin-skinned when reacting to criticism, but she’s become more of an authoritarian lately as well by blocking some users on Twitter.
Seems she can dish it out but often can’t take it.
Well, the actions have gotten the attention of some First Amendment attorneys who are now warning her that, as an elected official, she is required, by law, to adhere to certain rules.
For instance, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University told the congresswoman in a letter Wednesday that blocking social media critics amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.
“Multiple courts have held that public officials’ social media accounts constitute public forums when they are used in the way that you use the @AOC account, and they have made clear that public officials violate the First Amendment when they block users from these forums on the basis of viewpoint,” the letter reads.
That said, the bartender-turned-freshman lawmaker has argued that her @AOC handle is nevertheless a personal social media account separate from her congressional @RepAOC account.
No matter, according to the Knight First Amendment Institute.
“While we understand that you have another account that is nominally your ‘official’ one, the fact remains that you use the @AOC account as an extension of your office,” the letter reads.
“Notably, the Second Circuit rejected President Trump’s argument that his account is a personal one even though he has other accounts — @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — that are nominally official,” the group said.
Rebellious as always, Ocasio-Cortez responded to the letter on Twitter.
“I have 5.2 million followers,” she wrote. “Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents.”
She added, “Harassment is not a viewpoint,” falsely asserting that one daily news site, The Daily Caller, published photographs depicting her in the nude.
1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents.
2. Harassment is not a viewpoint. Some accounts, like the Daily Caller, posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments to spread it. No one is entitled to abuse. https://t.co/0QWKqJFzRe
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 29, 2019
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that it is unconstitutional for President Donald Trump to block critics on Twitter.
The president also argued that since it was his personal account he, too, was entitled to block users, but the court disagreed. That’s interesting given the fact that Twitter — and Facebook and Google and YouTube — have all either blocked users or banned them completely “on the basis of viewpoint.”
Nevertheless, the Knight Center represented the plaintiffs in the president’s case, so the organization obviously has some expertise in the area.
The three-judge panel said the digital space attending each tweet, where users can post responses and interact with one another, is a public forum where the First Amendment applies.
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Dean James at Right Wing Tribune