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Texas Attorney General unblocks nine Twitter accounts amid lawsuit, attorneys say

Texas Attorney General unblocks nine Twitter accounts amid lawsuit, attorneys say
© Greg Nash

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) unblocked nine Twitter accounts that had been critical of him amid a lawsuit, attorneys representing the users said Thursday. 

The users behind the nine previously blocked accounts, including students, a journalist, a leader of a progressive political group and a veteran, were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in the lawsuit arguing Paxton violated First and 14th Amendment rights by allegedly blocking critics on Twitter. 

Kate Huddlesteon, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said the unblocking “is a step in the right direction.” 

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“Attorney General Paxton cannot prevent Texans from exercising their First Amendment rights, including their right to criticize his policies and qualifications in their responses to his tweets,” Huddleston said in a statement. “It remains to be seen, however, whether the attorney general will unblock other Texans whose speech he’s suppressed. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit for Attorney General Paxton to comply with the Constitution.”

The complaint alleges users were blocked after tweeting views about Paxton’s qualifications and policies. 

In one case, a user was allegedly blocked for tweeting “wear a mask nerd” after Paxton retweeted a photo of himself and another person at the Conservative Political Action Conference without masks on, according to the complaint. 

A spokesperson for Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The lawsuit follows a similar high profile case filed by the Knight Institute against former President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE in 2017 after he blocked Twitter accounts critical of him. 

Federal courts found that Trump's account was a public forum and blocking critics violated their constitutional free speech protections.  

The Supreme Court last month vacated that ruling, finding it moot since Trump has since been banned from Twitter