We filed this lawsuit against Secretary of State John Merrill on behalf of three Alabama citizens who were blocked from Merrill’s Twitter account after they criticized him or made comments that he did not agree with. The lawsuit seeks to stop the Secretary from blocking plaintiffs or others based upon his disagreement with their viewpoint.
@JohnHMerrill is an account that Merrill uses regularly to discuss Alabama election law, inform about his duties as Alabama Secretary of State, remind the public about upcoming elections, and generally engage with the citizens of Alabama. All three of the people we are representing are residents and registered voters of Alabama; one is currently a law student at Cumberland Law School, another is a farmer and an educator, and the third is a mental health worker.
Kimberly Fasking, a law student at Cumberland Law School, was blocked after asking about crossover voting. Herbert Hicks, a farmer and educator, was blocked after asking Merrill about a speaking engagement. Heather Lynn Boothe has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years and was blocked when she said that there was a typo on the ballot – Merrill claimed that she was promoting “fake news.”We claim that as an elected government official, Merrill’s actions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. With the shift in how public officials are engaging with their constituents, it’s imperative that the social media platforms they use to inform citizens are not restricted.
- Press release: John Merrill Sued Over Twitter Blocking