On Thursday, The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University announced they formally requested Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to “unblock any Twitter users she has barred on the basis of their political views.”
Calling the practice “unconstitutional,” the Knight Institute writes that they hope to “dissuade” her from “engaging in it.” The way the free speech advocates see it, her account is almost the same as the president’s, “a ‘public forum’ within the meaning of the First Amendment.” That’s the one guaranteeing free speech. They also took notice that political positions contained in her posts, “have made headline news.”
Ocasio-Cortez didn’t take long to respond, claiming that “less than 20 accounts are blocked.” She brags about having more than 5.2 million followers and alleges that none of the voters in her district were silenced. “0 are my constituents.”
Another point she tried to make is that “harassment is not a viewpoint.” alleging that some accounts had “posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments. … No one is entitled to abuse.” The institute agrees that she was within her rights to block Twitter users who had posted threatening speech, but that still doesn’t account for all of her blocked users. One in particular is New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
Lawyers representing Ocasio-Cortez assert in a letter dated August 14, that “her Twitter account use was not equivalent to Trump’s.” They also maintain that “she did not block Hikind because of his political views.” Hikind tweeted back that he was “waiting for a single citation of an ‘abusive’ tweet of mine. Unless by abusive she means criticism that makes her feel stupid for her ignorant commentary and ideas!”
The Knight Institute successfully sued President Donald Trump for blocking users on Twitter from his account and President Trump is fighting back against the court’s July decision in their favor. Last week, Trump’s attorneys filed a demand that the entire 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York review the decision of a 3 judge panel. This process is called an “En Banc” hearing.
Trump’s Department of Justice lawyers argue that the decision that the president “violated the U.S. Constitution by blocking people whose views he disliked from his account,” was “fundamentally misconceived.” President Trump also has recourse against harassment when appropriate.
If the order isn’t overruled, they argue, then “public officials who address matters relating to their public office on personal accounts will run the risk that every action taken on that account will be state action subject to constitutional scrutiny.”
Once all the evidence is in and the arguments presented, it should turn out that both Trump and Ocasio-Cortez are bound by the same rules, one way or the other.
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