A group of Columbia attorneys has warned Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that she can’t block Twitter users she doesn’t like because she’s a public figure, the Blaze reported.
These same free speech defenders sued President Donald Trump for the same reason earlier this year and won.
The Knight First Amendment Institute sent Ocasio-Cortez a letter on Wednesday saying that blocking Twitter users is “unconstitutional,” and telling her “to unblock any Twitter users whom you or your staff have blocked from the @AOC account because of the viewpoints they have expressed.”
“We recognize that you may wish to block users for reasons that are both reasonable and constitutionally legitimate — for example, because their speech is threatening,” the letter added.
AOC pushes back
The congresswoman responded to the letter on Twitter, saying that she has only blocked 20 out of 5.2 million followers and that those blocked were abusing her.
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
“People are free to speak whatever classist, racist, false, misogynistic, bigoted comments they’d like,” she went on to say, but they “do not have the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse.”
Ocasio-Cortez further argued that the @AOC handle was a personal one. She also has a @RepAOC handle, but has used the personal one as an extension of her office and posted politically-based and policy tweets there, the lawyers argued.
Trump made the same argument about his personal Twitter handle, but he lost in the suit when a ruling was made in June that he could not block users.
The Justice Department is currently appealing the ruling against Trump, so Ocasio-Cortez may have to side with Trump on something. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
The fact is, social media has gotten way out of control. Americans have a First Amendment right to speak their minds, but people should also have some recourse to protect themselves from online harassment and lies.
And why shouldn’t public figures be allowed to control who posts on their social media page? Public figures shouldn’t have to subject themselves to abuse any more than anyone else.
Civil discourse seems to demand some more limits on social media use all around, but unfortunately it’s difficult to trust how these limits are applied to conservatives and Republicans when the major social media platforms are all so far left.