Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has unblocked on Twitter the nine Texans who sued him after they say they were unconstitutionally blocked for criticizing him or his policies on the social media platform.
In a lawsuit filed in April, a group of Texans said being blocked from viewing Paxton’s tweets from his @KenPaxtonTX account was a violation of the First Amendment because it limited the rights of people to participate in a public forum and access statements made by the public official.
The ACLU of Texas and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University represented the Texans in their lawsuit. According to their statements from a Thursday press release, Paxton has unblocked the nine Texans in the “ongoing lawsuit challenging Paxton’s practice of blocking critics from his Twitter account.”
Paxton has also “blocked many other individuals from the @KenPaxtonTX account based on their viewpoints,” according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs had asked Paxton to unblock them and everyone else who was blocked from the @KenPaxtonTX account “based on their viewpoints,” but it’s unclear if people not named in the lawsuit have been unblocked.
Lyndsey Wajert, a legal fellow with the Knight First Amendment Institute, said while Paxton has unblocked the nine Texans, the case has not been dismissed.
See here for the background. It’s a strange lawsuit to be involved in when the prize for winning is to be able to see Ken Paxton’s tweets, but it’s the principle that matters, and on those grounds Paxton was clearly in the wrong. I’m not sure if there are just some technical aspects to clear up before this is dropped, or if there are still substantive matters to be decided, but we were going to get to this point sooner or later. Kudos to the plaintiffs and their lawyers.
I’m still blocked by @kenpaxtontx.
Clearly, this is only about mooting this specific lawsuit — rather than a concession that he shouldn’t be blocking from his official account *any* constituents who publicly criticize him.
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) 6:15 PM – 6 May 2021
Clearly, not all issues are resolved.