The Gainesville Sun by Andrew Caplan
June 13, 2019
Both sides cite First Amendment in case over Twitter, Facebook access to lawmaker
State Rep. Chuck Clemons, who was in court this week defending his action to block a constituent on social media, faced skepticism from federal judges as similar cases across the nation have been decided in favor of open access.
Clemons, R-Newberry, is being sued in federal court by Gainesville resident Peter Morgan Attwood after Attwood was blocked on Twitter by Clemons for asking the lawmaker to explain a 2018 vote. Clemons’ attorney argues that his social media accounts are protected by “legislative immunity.”
The case has hit the 14-month mark, through motions and hearings, but it is far from being decided.
“I didn’t think we’d get this far,” Attwood’s attorney Eric Lindstrom said. “I thought we’d file a complaint and he’d unblock Attwood.”
In February 2018, Clemons voted to block discussion in the legislature on HB 219, a bill to ban assault weapons. Attwood retweeted Emma Gonzalez, a student, and survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Attwood, a Gainesville videographer, added to the Feb. 20 tweet with “Hello @ChuckClemons21 I’m a constituent. Please explain this vote, please. Thank you.” He was blocked soon after on Twitter and Facebook.