Missouri lawmaker unblocks Twitter critic who sued her

7 months 4 days 11 hours ago Wednesday, July 18 2018 Jul 18, 2018 Wednesday, July 18, 2018 8:10:32 PM CDT July 18, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri state representative has unblocked a critic from her Twitter account after he sued.

Republican Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, of Hallsville, said in announcing her decision Tuesday that Michael Campbell's lawsuit was frivolous and that he has never tried to communicate with her in a "meaningful way." Campbell, who lives in Centralia and practices law in Columbia, was blocked from Reisch's account after he retweeted another state representative who criticized her, The Columbia Missourian reported.

In his lawsuit, Campbell argues that Twitter is a public forum and blocking constituents because of their political views violates their First Amendment rights. Other officials around the country are being sued on similar grounds. A federal judge ruled in May that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking critics on Twitter, and Campbell contends that Trump's and Reisch's actions are "indistinguishable."

Andy Hirth of TGH Litigation, the firm representing Campbell, said that although he is pleased Campbell was unblocked, the lawsuit will proceed. It calls for Reisch to unblock Campbell and any other barred users.

In a statement, Reisch said her intentions in blocking him weren't to silence "the voice of a constituent," but rather to avoid "the name-calling and vitriol" that happens on social media. She said she has met with attorneys about the case but is worried about attorney's fees.

As a state representative, Reisch said she provides her constituents with many ways to reach her, including by phone and email or at public forums. She called herself "old-school," and said Campbell had other ways to reach her.

Reisch blocked Campbell at a time where she was receiving criticism on Twitter for calling out her Democratic opponent in this year's election, Maren Bell Jones, for standing with her hands behind her back during the Pledge of Allegiance.

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