Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he has no intention of unblocking anybody on social media after a federal judge ruled President Donald Trump’s blocking of Twitter followers a violation of the First Amendment.
The ruling was specific to Trump only, according to coverage by the Washington Post, but it may have set an important precedent as online boundaries for public officials are defined within the context of public records and freedom of speech.
Merrill, who is infamous for blocking those who disagree with him as well as those he calls “trolls” on Twitter, said he will continue removing followers from his digital presence if he feels so inclined….
A Twitter search showed several instances where followers engaged Merrill on Twitter at his @JohnHMerrill handle before later claiming the secretary of state blocked them.
One of the most prominent followers blocked appears to be Rick Hasen, an election law expert at University of California-Irvine, who tweeted that Merrill blocked him after he corrected Merrill about Alabama law regarding recounts.
Merrill appeared on CNN following U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ victory over former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and said Moore could pay for a recount if the margin of victory was more than 0.5 percent. Hasen wrote on his blog, ElectionLawBlog.com, that “the statute does not allow this for federal offices” and took to Twitter to correct Merrill directly.
Hours later, Hasen tweeted, “And rather than respond to me on the merits, the Alabama Secretary of State, its chief election officer, has blocked me on Twitter. Unreal.”