Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is continuing to block several critics on her personal Twitter account, despite settling a lawsuit and apologizing to one critic she blocked last week.
The blocked accounts include high-profile conservative activists and right-wing groups.
Legal precedent and First Amendment scholars say it’s unconstitutional for government officials to block users online over their point of view.
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologized for blocking a former Brooklyn Assemblyman on Twitter on Monday and settled a lawsuit he filed alleging she violated the First Amendment by preventing him from viewing or engaging with her account.
But the New York congresswoman is continuing to block several critics from her personal Twitter account, @AOC, which she uses to communicate with the public about everything from policymaking to campaigning.
Among the blocked accounts are that of Niraj Antani, a right-wing Ohio state lawmaker, Harry Cherry, a young conservative activist, Liz Wheeler, a host at the right-wing One American Network, Ryan Saavedra, a conservative activist at the Daily Wire, the group Students for Trump, and the right-wing website The Daily Caller, The New York Post confirmed on Saturday.
Ocasio-Cortez has defended blocking critics by arguing that they had harassed her, they weren’t her constituents, and that @AOC is technically a personal, rather than official, account. While many of these users have gotten into disagreements with Ocasio-Cortez, it’s unclear whether their conduct rises to the level of harassment or threats, which likely wouldn’t be fall under protected speech.
In one incident, The Daily Caller reported earlier this year on a nude photo circulating online that was wrongly associated with Ocasio-Cortez. The congresswoman said that episode and others amounted to harassment. In other cases, the blocked account appeared to have simply expressed critical views of Ocasio-Cortez and her policies.
“I would challenge her to show me the harassment,” Wheeler told the Post. “I actually defend this woman on a regular basis when people make fun of her looks, or the way she gestures, or when she was a bartender.”
Students for Trump and Saavedra independently confirmed to Insider that Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t unblocked them. A spokesperson for the congresswoman didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Legal precedent isn’t in Ocasio-Cortez’s favor. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in July that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment by blocking critics from his Twitter account. The government petitioned for re-hearing in August.
Prominent First Amendment experts have urged Ocasio-Cortez in recent months to reverse her decision to block critics on the social media platform.
In a statement last week regarding the settlement, Ocasio-Cortez conceded that former Assemblyman Dov Hikind hadn’t harassed her and that his online speech in regard to her account was protected by law.
“Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them,” she said. “In retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind.”
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Source:: Business Insider – Politics