Campbell v. Reisch, No. 19-2994 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Mike Campbell filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against Missouri state representative Cheri Toalson Reisch after she blocked him from her Twitter account, alleging that she violated the First Amendment by denying him the right to speak. The district court agreed with plaintiff, declared that Reisch had violated his rights, and ordered her to stop blocking plaintiff and others because of the content or viewpoint of their speech.
The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that plaintiff is not entitled to section 1983 relief because Reisch was not acting under state law when she blocked him from her Twitter account. The court held that Reisch's account is the kind of unofficial account that the court envisioned in Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. Trump, 928 F.3d 226, 235–36 (2d Cir. 2019). The court explained that no one seriously disputes that her account at least began life as a private account because Reisch was not a public official when she created it. Even if Reisch had been a public official at the time, the court would still hold that she had not created an official governmental account because she used it overwhelmingly for campaign purposes. The court thought that Reisch's Twitter account is more akin to a campaign newsletter than to anything else, and so it's Reisch's prerogative to select her audience and present her page as she sees fit. Therefore, Reisch's own First Amendment right to craft her campaign materials necessarily trumps Campbell's desire to convey a message on her Twitter page that she does not wish to convey, even if that message does not compete for room as it would, say, in a campaign newsletter. The court remanded for the district court to enter judgment in Reisch's favor.