Monday, May 24, 2021

Twitter and the First Amendment

Here's a case from January 2021 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  Here's a map of the circuits.

This case is called Campbell v Reisch and is an appeal of a case from the Western District of Missouri.

Mike Campbell is a citizen of Missouri in the 44th district.  Cheri Toalson Reisch campaigned to represent the 44th district, and was eventually elected.  While she campaigned, she established a Twitter account, and tweeted campaign-related messages, including where she stood on issues and requesting campaign donations.

After Reisch was elected, she continued to use the Twitter account, informing her followers of events in which she participated, how she was working toward meeting her campaign promises, photos of herself with other political persons, and other types of messages.  She invited responses by her constituents.  When Mike Campbell responded with criticism, she blocked him.  He sued, alleging that blocking him was a violation of his First Amendment rights, denying him the right to speak.

This case is interesting in that it includes discussion of the same issue with Trump's Twitter account.  In this case, the court found that this was a personal account of Reisch, rather than a public/government account.  Trump's Twitter account was a public account.  This case discusses how to determine the difference in the types of accounts.  The First Amendment does not apply to personal accounts, only "government action" which requires that the accounts be maintained in the person's official capacity as a government/elected official.

Do you agree with the court's conclusion that Reisch's Twitter account was personal rather than governmental?  Why or why not?


  1. I don't know enough about US politics and constitution for this one. But I do think if a politician is using a private account for public purposes, they have to accept the good with the bad, otherwise isn't that a giant loophole? Politicians could all switch to private accounts and then no-one would have a voice in opposition to them?

  2. I can only agree with it by using the term "Grandfathered In." That is because the social media account was archaic to when she was campaigning.

    Other than that I have a hard time with having government accounts in a private business. The whole deal is too new for precedents to be available for the myriad faces of newer technology. It is all still a mud hole.

    1. Well, personally I think that MOST politics is a mud hole!