AOC advised to unblock former NY Assemblyman

Columbia University institute affirms Dov Hikind’s right to not being blocked by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has affirmed former Democratic New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s right to not being blocked by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.

The institute published a letter it sent to Ocasio-Cortez in which they affirm that her blocking of critics is unconstitutional as proven and that her private Twitter account, @AOC, is used for public business and therefore a public forum.

The institute strongly suggested to Ocasio-Cortez that she avoid stifling free speech by immediately unblocking Hikind as well as others who have been prevented from seeing her tweets and addressing them directly.

“Based on the facts as we understand them, the @AOC account is a ‘public forum’ within the meaning of the First Amendment. You use the account as an extension of your office—to share information about congressional hearings, to explain policy proposals, to advocate legislation, and to solicit public comment about issues relating to government,” the letter to Ocasio-Cortez said.

“The @AOC account is important to you as a legislator, to your constituents, and to others who seek to understand and influence your legislative decisions and priorities. Multiple courts have held that public officials’ social media accounts constitute public forums when they are used in the way that you use the @AOC account, and they have made clear that public officials violate the First Amendment when they block users from these forums on the basis of viewpoint. Most relevant here, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently concluded that President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking users from his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, because ‘he disagree[d] with their speech,’” the letter added.

The institute urged Ocasio-Cortez “to unblock any Twitter users whom you or your staff have blocked from the @AOC account because of the viewpoints they have expressed. We recognize that you may wish to block users for reasons that are both reasonable and constitutionally legitimate—for example, because their speech is threatening. We also recognize that abuse and harassment are significant problems on social media, especially for women and minorities, and that this abuse and harassment can deter speech and political participation that are crucial to our democracy. We would welcome the chance to work with you to develop a social media policy that both complies with the First Amendment and helps you address threats, abuse, and harassment.”

Hikind filed a lawsuit against Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) last month for blocking him on Twitter because he holds opposing viewpoints.

He told the New York Times that Ocasio-Cortez blocked him from her personal Twitter account on July 8, after he criticized her for calling US migrant detention centers “concentration camps.”

She has some 4.7 million followers on her @AOC account, where she discusses policy and her proposals. Her official congressional account, @RepAOC, has 172,000 followers.

Ocasio-Cortez has caused several uproars since taking office and has used the Holocaust in a controversial manner more than once.

In April, she quoted a passage about the Holocaust to defend Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who was criticized for downplaying the 9/11 attacks.

Ocasio-Cortez is known for her criticism of Israel, having recently said that Israel is “criminal” in its treatment of Palestinian Arabs who, she claimed, have no other choice but to resort to violence as they are “marginalized.”

Previously, she said that cutting military and economic aid to Israel as a way to signal opposition to Israeli policies should be “on the table.”