Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Sued for Blocking Critics on Twitter

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]

President Trump and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are diametrical opposites in nearly every way, except perhaps for their shared home state of New York and their social media dominance.

But now there may be another thing that binds the two: a federal appeals panel ruling on Tuesday that Mr. Trump, a Republican, has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following him on Twitter because they criticized or mocked him.

That ruling is now the basis of two lawsuits filed against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, accusing her of blocking people because of their opposing political stances.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has 4.7 million followers on her personal Twitter account, @AOC, which she uses to frequently discuss policy and advocate her proposals, such as the Green New Deal and her belief that the camps holding children and other undocumented immigrants seeking asylum at the Texas border are “concentration camps.”

Dov Hikind, a former assemblyman from Brooklyn who is the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, said he regularly replies to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets, but was blocked on July 8.

Joseph Saladino, a YouTube personality known as “Joey Salads” who is running for a congressional seat representing Brooklyn and Staten Island, said he was blocked on May 9.

But because Ms. Ocasio-Cortez uses the account to discuss policies that affect them, she cannot use the account to “suppress contrary views” and violate his First Amendment rights to free speech, Mr. Hikind said in his lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

“It’s very clear based on the court’s ruling that A.O.C. is violating my constitutional rights to free speech by excluding me,” Mr. Hikind said in an interview. “She doesn’t want me to be a part of the discussion and conversation.”

Mr. Hikind said he was blocked after criticizing Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for her concentration camp comments.

“She has a right to have that position. That’s not the issue. The question is why is she afraid of other people’s positions?” he added.

Mr. Saladino, whose pranks have been criticized as racist, filed a separate lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan. He said that as a practical matter, he does not care if Ms. Ocasio-Cortez blocked him because he can still access her Twitter comments from an anonymous account.

He said his complaint is a test of whether there is a double standard in the courts for liberals and conservatives.

“At the end of the day, it’s like a social experiment to see if the standards will apply equally,” Mr. Paladino said. “Will the courts rule the same way against A.O.C. as Trump?”

Corbin Trent, a spokeswoman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, declined to comment about pending litigation.

Blocking on social media is done across political party lines. In 2017, for example, ProPublica sent letters asking all 50 governors and 22 federal agencies whether they had blocked people on social media. Five Republican governors, four Democrats and four agencies responded with information about people they had blocked. Many agencies and more than half the governors did not respond.

In New York, the issue has arisen with Representative Peter King, a 14-term Republican congressman who represents parts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. In April, the New York Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue Mr. King if he did not unblock the 70 or so constituents who were banned from his “Congressman Peter King” Facebook page for criticizing him.

In May, Mr. King added a new Facebook page that he said would be his official government account, and that he would not ban people from it.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s @AOC account is not her official congressional account. Her official congressional account, @RepAOC, has 172,000 followers and was last updated July 5, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Jacob Weinstein, Mr. Hikind’s lawyer, noted that the court ruling concerned the @realDonaldTrump personal account, followed by 61.8 million users, that Mr. Trump uses most often to comment on Twitter, not his official presidential Twitter account.

“It comes down to the First Amendment,” Mr. Weinstein said. “Twitter is a public forum. Imagine a politician is giving a town hall. Imagine if they only select people they like.”

Mr. Hikind said he was confident that he would prevail because of the ruling against Mr. Trump and the words of Judge Barrington D. Parker in the decision. “In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less,” the judge wrote.

From a legal standpoint, “I know she can’t win,” said Mr. Hikind, who is seeking a ruling that would compel Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to unblock him and anyone else blocked for partisan reasons.

“Why is she afraid to read my comments about her policies? She only wants people who agree with her,” Mr. Hikind said. “I find it pathetic.”

Source

more recommended stories

  • 5 Ways John Paul Stevens Made a Mark on the Supreme Court

    WASHINGTON — Justice John Paul Stevens,.

  • With Name-Calling and Twitter Battles, House Republican Campaign Arm Copies Trump’s Playbook

    “I hope the lesson the N.R.C.C..

  • Top Myanmar Generals Are Barred From Entering U.S. Over Rohingya Killings

    BANGKOK — The United States has.

  • Iran Rejects Pompeo’s Suggestion It Is Willing to Negotiate Over Missile Program

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike.

  • Trump’s New Top Labor Official Is Expected to Advance an Anti-Labor Agenda

    Congressional Republicans, members of their staffs.

  • Roger Stone Is Barred From Social Media After Posts Attacking Russia Inquiry

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge on.

  • North Korea Warns U.S. to Quit Military Drills With South Korea

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea.

  • The Painful Roots of Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Comment

    It was there in 1882, when.

  • Democratic Fund-Raising: In a Packed Field, Five Candidates Stand Out

    Contributions From Individual Donors The bigger.

  • Pence’s Border Trip Illustrates Conflicting Messages About Detained Migrants

    Although many people were appalled by.

  • Trump Sends Negotiators to Geneva for Nuclear Talks With Russians and Also Seeks to Limit Chinese Warheads

    WASHINGTON — President Trump is sending.

  • E.P.A. Broke Rules in Shake-Up of Science Panels, Federal Watchdog Says

    Want climate news in your inbox?.

  • Joe Biden’s Health Care Plan Focuses on Shoring Up the Affordable Care Act

    After remaining vague for months about.

  • Huge Turnout Is Expected in 2020. So Which Party Would Benefit?

    The opportunity for Democrats, however small,.

  • On Politics: Trump Tells Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to Their Countries

    Good Monday morning. Here are some.

  • The Power Went Out. Where Was de Blasio?

    He was in rural Iowa, illustrating.

  • When Big Tobacco Invoked Eric Garner to Fight a Menthol Cigarette Ban

    In an interview in the sanctuary.

  • Trump Backs Away From Barriers on Foreign Uranium

    WASHINGTON — President Trump said he.

  • Joe Biden Decides He Doesn’t Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

    ATKINSON, N.H. — Joseph R. Biden.

  • Pence Tours Border Facilities – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Man Attacking ICE Detention Center Is Fatally Shot by the Police

    The police fatally shot a man.

  • Pence Defends Conditions at Migrant Detention Centers in Texas

    Vice President Mike Pence played down.

  • Top Ocasio-Cortez Aide Becomes a Symbol of Democratic Division

    WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders, their.

  • Parties Face ‘Crackup’ as Outsiders Wield Social Media Against the Establishment

    WASHINGTON — On the night that.

  • New Details on Family Separations Fuel Emotional Hearing

    WASHINGTON — At least 18 infants.

  • One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race

    Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This.

  • A White House Correspondent Departs the Jaw-Dropping Trump Beat

    To judge by Thursday’s events, Mr..

  • House Democrats Postpone Mueller Testimony by One Week

    WASHINGTON — House Democrats said late.

  • E.P.A. Plans to Curtail the Ability of Communities to Oppose Pollution Permits

    “Often the Environmental Appeals Board is.

  • As Tropical Storm Barry Strengthens, FEMA Is Already Stretched Thin

    The increase in disasters has outpaced.

  • 22 States Considered Eliminating the ‘Tampon Tax’ This Year. Here’s What Happened.

    In Maine, the House and Senate.

  • American Commandos Gear Up for New Shadow War With Russia

    SZOLNOK, Hungary — Secretive, behind-the-lines mission.