If U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) blocks you on Twitter or any other social media then you can take him to court.
This is the opinion of a top official with the New York City-based Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This is the same organization that sued the Trump Administration and forced the president to stop blocking people on his Twitter page.
As reported, Cohen also blocks certain of his critics on social media.
“I do think that people who have been blocked by a member of Congress can take action,” said Katie Fallow, Knight’s senior staff attorney.
“I do think it will depend on the facts of how that person is using their social media accounts, but, yes, I think they would have a plausible claim.”
Courts, of course, have already ruled on this issue as it pertains to executive-level offices in government, including governors and the U.S. president. They have yet to rule on members of Congress. Fallow told The Tennessee Star she’s gotten complaints about members of Congress blocking critics on social media.
No one in Cohen’s office has returned repeated requests for comment this week.
To have a plausible claim for legal action, first the congressman or congresswoman must already use his or her social media account as “a means of governing constituents,” Fallow said.
“He (Cohen) can’t block people just because they criticize him,” Fallow said.
“The courts that have considered this issue have asked whether these people are using their pages for fundraising and for communicating only with their supporters, like they’re in campaign mode. Then a court might find it’s not really an open public forum.”
Cohen, on his Twitter page, identifies himself as a U.S. congressman. He shares his views on pending litigation in Congress, including legislation he’s sponsoring. He comments frequently on President Trump and various federal policies. Cohen follows nearly 8,000 people and has more than 50,000 followers. Other people on Twitter comment on his page to share their views with him.
“Any public official, including an elected public official, is operating what is effectively a public forum and using it as a forum to speak to and hear from constituents,” Fallow said.
“We think the same reasoning (that applies to Trump) would apply regardless of whether they are members of Congress or at different levels of the state and federal governments.”
As The Star reported last week, Cohen has blocked several people on Twitter, including the parody page in the name of Sean Spicier.
This happened after Spicier mocked Cohen’s endorsement of U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke in Texas.
Twitchy reported Cohen “blocks anyone with a pulse who disagrees with him.”
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