If You Tell Your Senator To #DoYourJob, They Might Block You On Twitter

If you’re upset with a store or restaurant, mad your flight is delayed or frustrated your elected officials won’t #DoTheirJob, there’s a quick fix, thanks to Twitter. 

At least that’s what Jason Steed thought. Steed, an appellate lawyer based in Dallas, tweeted at Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday to “do his job” and vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, a confirmation that has been pending since President Barack Obama nominated Garland in March. 

cc @JohnCornyn & @SenTedCruz #DoYourJob #GoWithGarland https://t.co/X9CwLUqpEE

— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) June 28, 2016

Tuesday’s tweet is one of many that Steed has sent to Cornyn’s account, the lawyer told The Huffington Post. In fact, the senator had responded amicably to a few of Steed’s comments in the past, Steed said.

But Cornyn, apparently, has had enough. When Steed clicked on a link to the senator’s Twitter account Thursday morning, he couldn’t see it. Steed was blocked, he said.

“I don’t know if there was any single event that happened,” he said. “I guess somewhere along the way he got tired of it.”

Cornyn’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

A guy on Twitter says #DoYourJob and @JohnCornyn blocks him like: pic.twitter.com/ZfDOeRUNjG

— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) June 30, 2016

Garland has waited over 100 days since he was nominated, but Cornyn and many Republican senators have refused to hold a vote to confirm him. “The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next president to make the nomination to fill this vacancy,” Cornyn said in March.

Steed clearly didn’t agree. He tweeted at the senator using the viral hashtag #DoYourJobTexas also has the highest number of vacant judge seats — positions that must also be confirmed by the Senate. Those issues pushed Steed to start tweeting at Cornyn, he said.

Now that Steed is blocked, he tweeted that he’s considering filing a lawsuit against the senator for “denying my right to petition govt & unequal treatment.”

1983 claim for denying my right to petition govt & unequal treatment. Class action – presumably he's blocked others. https://t.co/U9Y6qZOlLi

— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) June 30, 2016

I actually think right-to-petition claim against @JohnCornyn might have legs. Imagine judge issuing injunction saying "don't tweet senator."

— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) June 30, 2016

The tweets were all tongue in cheek, Steed said. But he does have a problem with an elected official shutting a constituent out.

“So everyone else (who he hasn’t blocked) can see what their senator is saying about important issues, but I can’t. That’s a problem,” Steed said in an email. “I mean if it’s his personal account, feel free to block whoever you want, but if it’s a verified account that’s being held out as the senator’s account… then I think that’s different.” 

Although Steed was joking when he suggesting filing a lawsuit, he said someone might have a claim if they were mad enough, he said.

“I don’t know enough [to be sure] but I think there’s enough there that makes it seem somewhat viable to me,” he said. “Particularly because you’re dealing with an official account.” 

This isn’t the first time a lawmaker has allegedly blocked a constituent. In 2011, Rick Perry apparently blocked a constituent for her Twitter comments.

And this issue, it turns out, is nonpartisan. A Democratic council member in Seattle apparently blocked a couple people just last week, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) supposedly has a history of blocking both constituents and journalists on Twitter.

“Whether there’s anything legally or constitutionally wrong with it, you’re supposed to represent everyone in the state, or everybody in your district if you’re a congressperson,” Steed said. “Any elected representative should have the door open to hear what anybody in their district or their state is saying.”

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