Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was slapped with a lawsuit from comedian and troll nonpareil Alex Stein over a viral exchange the two shared last year. In the hilarious video, Stein caught up with AOC as she walked into a federal building in D.C. and, among other things, said she was his “favorite big booty Latina.”
In the aftermath of the barbs traded, Stein was subsequently blocked by AOC on Twitter. As a result, Stein is now claiming her actions violated his rights as a private citizen to have access to the expressions of a sitting congresswoman.
Stein contends in the lawsuit that AOC blocked him “in retaliation to Mr. Stein’s exercise of his First Amendment right, because earlier that day Mr. Stein, in the context of political commentary and satire, complimented Ms. Cortez,” the lawsuit claims, as reported by Slay News.
“Mr. Stein has a constitutional right to access Ms. Cortez’s Twitter account as part of vigorous public comment and criticism,” the lawsuit goes on to say.
“Ms. Cortez’s practice of blocking Twitter users she disagrees with is unconstitutional and this suit seeks to redress that wrong. My client is a political satirist,” his attorney Jonathan Gross said. “Political speech, the Supreme Court has said, is the highest level of protected speech.”
Stein himself said it’s not about any personal disagreements the two obviously have. Instead, his focus was merely on the constitutional gray area in which social media operates. “I really don’t have any hard feelings for AOC,” he said. “I really would like to have her unblock me. I think ethically, AOC is kind of playing fast and loose.”
After Stein went viral for his interaction on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building, AOC issued a response calling his actions “deeply disgusting.”
“Look at that booty on AOC,” Stein said in his July 2022 video as she walked up the steps. “Whooo. I love it AOC. Hot, hot, hot like a tamale,” he added.
AOC then proceeded to post a live video from the top of the Capitol steps, with Stein waving in the background. Her boyfriend did not stand up for her when Stein was throwing comments her way.
Stein’s suit has basis in appellate jurisprudence. In 2019, an appellate court found that Trump could not block people on Twitter, as the New York Times reported at the time, saying:
President Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era.
Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously.
The ruling was one of the highest-profile court decisions yet in a growing constellation of cases addressing what the First Amendment means in a time when political expression increasingly takes place online. It is also a time, Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote, when government conduct is subject to a “wide-open, robust debate” that “generates a level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen.”
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