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Rep. Reisch sued over Twitter blocking
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TGH Sues Rep. Reisch

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri Representative Cheri Reisch (R-Hallsville) is being sued for blocking a constituent on Twitter.

Attorney Andy Hirth sued Reisch on behalf of Mike Campbell, a local attorney.

By Margaret Austin          Columbia Missourian          July 17, 2018

State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, has unblocked on Twitter the man who sued her in federal court for allegedly violating his right to free speech in a public forum.

She called the lawsuit frivolous and said Michael Campbell, the man suing her, has never tried to actually communicate with her.

In a written statement circulated Tuesday, Reisch said, “Despite the fact Mr. Campbell has no real intention of communicating with me in a meaningful way, I have unblocked him on Twitter.”

Andy Hirth of TGH Litigation, the firm representing Campbell, said that although he is pleased Campbell was unblocked, the case will move forward.

Campbell, a Columbia lawyer and Centralia resident, filed the suit in June, saying Reisch blocked him for retweeting a comment that criticized her.

The suit called for Reisch to unblock Campbell along with any other barred users. If successful, the suit would prevent her from continuing the practice in the future.

Reisch clarified that her intentions in blocking him weren’t to silence “the voice of a constituent,” but rather to avoid “the name-calling and vitriol” that happens on social media. She said she has met with attorneys about the case but is worried about attorney’s fees.

As a state representative, Reisch said she provides her constituents many avenues of communication, such as phone calls, emails and public forums, so they can make their voices heard. She called herself “old-school,’’ and her statement said Campbell had other ways to reach her.

The blocking came after she received backlash on Twitter for calling out her Democratic opponent in this year’s election, Maren Bell Jones, for standing with her hands behind her back during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Campbell was blocked after retweeting Democratic state Rep. Kip Kendrick’s reply to the criticism.

Following the blowback, Reisch said people were looking too far into the statement.

At the end of May, a similar lawsuit against Trump ended with a federal judge ruling that officials blocking people on Twitter violated the First Amendment. The judge said the “interactive space” on Twitter constitutes a public forum and that free speech is protected by the Constitution.

Campbell’s suit calls Trump and Reisch’s actions “indistinguishable.”

Kerry Hirth