An Arizona congressman who blocked a constituent and critic on Facebook is having second thoughts. Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican who’s being sued in federal court for blocking constituent and liberal critic J’aime Morgaine, is now inviting her to comment on his Facebook page.
On Wednesday, Gosar tweeted that he’s lifting the block and invited Morgaine, a Prescott resident, to comment: “Welcome back to my Facebook, @JMorgaine. The floor’s all yours.”
“Not only has Rep. Paul Gosar unblocked me, but I’ve been receiving word from other blocked constituents, one by one, that they have also been unblocked,” Morgaine said. “I genuinely appreciate that he has finally responded to his constituents’ requests to have their constitutional rights honored by their congressman.”
Nevertheless, Morgaine said she has no intention of dropping her lawsuit. Now that she’s unblocked, she wants a federal court to find Gosar’s policy unconstitutional.
Morgaine sued Gosar in September for blocking her on Facebook, arguing that since Gosar uses his Facebook page in an official capacity and as a public forum, she has a First Amendment right to comment on it. Morgaine argued that Gosar banned her for being critical, not for incivility.
In an interview with VICE News Tonight that aired last week, Gosar argued that he was within his rights to block Morgaine because her comments were hostile, and could lead to violence. In July, Gosar posted on Facebook that he had the right to block constituents, writing, “My Facebook, my property. Users are banned who do not promote healthy, civil dialogue on this page, but all are welcome to contact Congressman Gosar using other methods.”
VICE News has reached out to Gosar’s office for comment.
In his interview with VICE News, Gosar argued that it was necessary to block hostile commenters because of the threat of political violence, particularly from the left, pointing to the attempted assassination of Rep. Steve Scalise, and groups like antifa. When it was noted that antifa was in the news because of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Gosar suggested that the white nationalists who marched there were funded by a liberal Holocaust survivor. That is a conspiracy theory promoted by Alex Jones, and it is false.
On Tuesday, according to a Twitter account that automatically tracks edits to congressional Wikipedia pages from congressional IP addresses, someone with a congressional IP address made edits to Gosar’s Wikipedia page. These edits were on the section of the page that covered his comments about the conspiracy theory. The edits removed the words “debunked,” “baseless,” “bogus,” and “falsely.”