Federal Judge Calls on Ocasio-Cortez to Testify in Lawsuit for Blocking Critics on Twitter

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 26, 2019 Updated: September 26, 2019

A federal judge has called on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to testify in a lawsuit filed by a former state assemblyman for blocking users on Twitter during a court hearing on Sept. 26.

Dov Hikind, who was a former Democratic New York Assemblyman and the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, said that Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederic Block has called on the freshman congresswoman to testify in court to answer questions surrounding her act of blocking users on Twitter, including why she blocked Hikind.

He said Ocasio-Cortez will be required to also explain how her primary account @AOC should be considered personal and not be subjected to a recent federal appeals court ruling that found President Donald Trump violated the first amendment when he blocked users from viewing and commenting on his Twitter messages.

“It’s a great development as she will have to answer very specifically what about my critical tweets crossed a line,” Hikind said in a statement to the Epoch Times on Sept. 26.

According to the NY Daily News, Judge Block stated that he thinks Ocasio-Cortez “has to testify here.”

The judge, who reviewed hundreds of pages of Twitter posts, said he believed hearing from Ocasio-Cortez was a necessary determination in whether the lawsuit should move forward, according to the newspaper.

During the hearing to decided on whether the lawsuit should continue, Hikind testified about the nature of his posts that he believed led him being blocked by the Democratic congresswoman.

The lawsuit, which was filed on July 9, claimed that Ocasio-Cortez excluded Twitter users who have criticized her and her positions as a Congresswoman by blocking them to suppress their views.

“This practice is unconstitutional and must end,” the complaint stated.

Last month, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University request Ocasio-Cortez to unblock Twitter users who have differing political viewpoints from her, saying that blocking twitter users is “unconstitutional.”

The group sent Ocasio-Cortez a letter on Aug. 28 in which they said, “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 stated. “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.”

In response, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Aug. 29 after a town hall meeting that she blocks Twitter users who she thinks are harassing her.

“I’ve blocked less than 20, and it’s for harassment, not for political views,” she said, reported the New York Post. “While people have a right to say whatever they want, they do not have a right to force me to hear it.”

The congresswoman’s popular personal @AOC account has more than 5.4 million followers, as of the time of writing. Ocasio-Cortez uses the @AOC account to posts about her policies like the Green New Deal and her political stances on a range of issues. The freshman congresswoman also maintains an official @RepAOCaccount, which only has 190,000 followers, as of the time of writing.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to our request to comment.

Epoch Times Masooma Haq contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.