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Friday, May 22, 2020

Sen. John Cornyn Unblocks Critics on Twitter — After Free Speech Group Hints That It May Sue

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 8:48 AM

click to enlarge John Cornyn speaks during an appearance at the conservative CPAC conference. - GAGE SKIDMORE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
  • John Cornyn speaks during an appearance at the conservative CPAC conference.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has unblocked critics on his official Twitter account after a free-speech organization with a record of forcing the issue in court advised him that the practice leaves him open to a lawsuit.

Last week, the Knight First Amendment Institute fired off a letter to the Texas Republican asking him to unblock a constituent who posted a critical comment on his Twitter feed. Citing court rulings, the group pointed out that public officials are in violation of constitutional free-speech guarantees when they ban critics from their official social media accounts.

If the Knight Institute sounds familiar, that may be because the Columbia University-based group won a victory over President Donald Trump in federal court last year over whether he can legally block critics on Twitter.

Lo and behold, the same day Knight sent its letter to Cornyn, the organization tweeted that the constituent the senator had barred from his account — a former intern in his office, no less — had been unblocked.

The former intern, Heath Mayo, also confirmed his unblocking in a tweet. And author and CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter said she too was able to access Cornyn's feed after being banned.

Earlier this month, Cornyn unblocked another Twitter critic a day after that user sued in federal court. The plaintiff, an Austin-based cybersecurity researcher, said he'll continue to pursue the case because he wants to prevent others from being blocked by the senator.

Looks like for all of his recent Trump-inspired nicknaming and name calling, the senator's got paper-thin skin when it comes to social media.

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