Social Media | Viewpoint Discrimination

Lawsuit Against Texas Attorney General Who Blocked Critics on Twitter is Dismissed

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (C) holds a news conference to announce Texas and 20 other states have filed a lawsuit against the state of Delaware over millions of dollars in unclaimed official checks Paxton says have wrongly been remitted to Delaware, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On July 9th, nine constituents dismissed their lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after he agreed to unblock them from his Twitter account.

The nine plaintiffs, who were represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute, sued Paxton in April after he blocked them for criticizing some of his policies. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin, argued that because the Attorney General uses his Twitter account, @KenPaxtonTX, for official purposes, his account is considered a public forum and blocking users based on their viewpoint is a violation of the First Amendment. 

“We’re pleased that Attorney General Paxton has agreed to stop blocking people from his Twitter account simply because he doesn’t like what they have to say,” Katie Fallow, a senior attorney at the Knight Institute said in a statement on July 12th. 

 “Multiple courts have recognized that government officials who use their social media accounts for official purposes violate the First Amendment if they block people from those accounts on the basis of viewpoint. What Paxton was doing was unconstitutional,” she added.

The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the plaintiffs can file suit again if Paxton blocks them on Twitter.

Courthouse News