A federal judge in New York has ordered Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to testify in court, after a former Democratic New York State Assemblyman accused the congresswoman of violating his First Amendment rights.
In July, former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind sued Ocasio-Cortez, after the freshman lawmaker blocked him from contacting or viewing her Twitter account, after Hikind criticized her for comparing federal detention centers for illegal immigrants to concentration camps, and using the slogan “Never Again”.
While attorneys for the congresswoman hoped to have the case dismissed, Frederic Block, Senior Judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York called Ocasio-Cortez in last week to explain what prompted her to block Hikind from her account.
“I think she has to testify here,” said Block at a hearing last Thursday.
During the two-hour hearing, Hikind testified about the nature of his tweets that prompted Ocasio-Cortez to block him from her account. Hikind asserted his right to access to the congresswoman and that his critical tweets were those that took her to task for her careless usage of “concentration camps” and “never again” to refer to ICE detention facilities.
The congresswoman’s campaign manager, Rebecca Rodriguez, told the court that Ocasio-Cortez had exclusive access to her account, and that she was the one who had decided to block Hikind because she felt the former state assemblyman’s tweets were “too frequent”, “no longer conversational”, and “hateful”.
At the end of the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez’s representatives agreed that she would need to testify for case to proceed, and the trial is now pending her agreement to a date to testify in court.
Hikind’s attorneys cited the precedent established in a federal court ruling last year which found that President Donald Trump had violated Twitter users’ First Amendment rights by blocking them from his personal Twitter account.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled in the case that the president’s blocking of individuals from his Twitter account over their political views is in violation of the First Amendment.
Buchwald ruled that the president’s Twitter account constitutes a “designated public forum” from which Trump may not exclude certain people.
“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” Buchwald wrote.
“The answer to both questions is no.”