A First Amendment lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been dropped as part of a deal after he unblocked critics on his personal Twitter account and agreed to not block anyone in the future, The Hill reported on Monday.
Nine Twitter users who had been blocked from Paxton’s Twitter account after criticizing him or his policies had filed the suit in an Austin-based federal case in April.
Paxton had already unblocked the plaintiffs of the lawsuit a month later, but the agreement submitted to the court confirmed he has now unblocked any other accounts, The Texas Tribune reported.
The plaintiffs, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, agreed to drop their suit as part of the deal, according to The Hill.
Paxton had blocked the plaintiffs on his personal account, not the official attorney general account, but the plaintiffs' attorneys have argued that he used the personal account to make official announcements and defend his policies, The Texas Tribune reported
“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,” said Katie Fallow, an attorney at the Knight Institute. “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.”
The ACLU of Texas called the agreement "an important victory for Texans' First Amendment rights."
According to The Hill, the case arose after a similar suit against former President Donald Trump. Lower federal courts found that Trump’s Twitter account constituted a public forum and that blocking his critics violated their constitutional free speech protections. In April, after Trump was no longer president, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and dismissed Trump’s appeal as moot.
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