After mounting a five-month-long protest and filing a lawsuit in federal court, J'aime Morgaine can finally declare victory: She's been unblocked from Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar's Facebook page.
The protest — which involved making the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kingman to Prescott to deposit literal blocks at the Republican congressman's office — has come to an end.
But Morgaine isn't planning on dropping the lawsuit that she filed in September, arguing that Gosar had violated her right to free speech.
"In fact, the lawsuit is even more important than ever," she told Phoenix New Times. "The fact that he has unblocked us doesn't change how unconstitutional the block was. It also doesn't change how completely unaccountable he has been to his constituents."
On Wednesday morning, Gosar personally singled out Morgaine in a tweet, writing, "Welcome back to my Facebook, @JMorgaine. The floor's all yours."
Morgaine, an army veteran and the founder of Indivisible Kingman, describes the message as "both lovely and unexpected." Even more unexpected, she says, is the fact that Gosar also unblocked everyone else who'd been barred from viewing and commenting on his Facebook.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Gosar explained in a statement. “We continue to ask that everyone honor our rules of conduct by abstaining from the use of profanity, ad hominem attacks, hate speech, and spamming. Other than that, enjoy the graphics, updates, and conversation.”
It’s possible that Gosar may be looking for a second chance of his own. His controversial remarks blaming George Soros for racist violence in Charlottesville drew widespread criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism.
Then, his own brother contacted Morgaine's hometown paper, the Kingman Daily Miner, and offered to help represent Morgaine in her lawsuit.
According to the Daily Miner, David Gosar — who works as an attorney in Wyoming — said that he and other family members were "disgusted" by the congressman's comments.
His brother "looked insane" accusing a Holocaust survivor of collaborating with Nazis, he added.
Morgaine says she's been in talks with a staff attorney from the ACLU, which may end up taking on her case. But if the ACLU decides to pass, she'll consider David Gosar's offer.
She noted that Congressman Paul Gosar's decision to unblock critics from his official Facebook page "doesn't change his bizarre thought process that equated political commentary by constituents who are angry about — and critical of — his job performance with intimidating threats of violence."
Besides, she added, "This issue is much bigger than just Representative Gosar blocking his constituents.
"Members of Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — are also blocking constituents. So this lawsuit will help other blocked constituents to hold their members of Congress accountable in court, as well. First Amendment-protected free speech is nothing to play around with, so I am doing what I can, as one constituent standing up for what I believe in. And I hope what I'm doing inspires others to stand up and hold their elected representatives accountable, too."
Since Morgaine first began her protest, the question of whether elected officials can block critics on social media has become the subject of a national debate. In July, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued President Donald Trump, arguing that he'd violated the constitutional rights of individuals he'd blocked on Twitter.
Nonetheless, Trump has continued to block critics on Twitter — including fiction writer Stephen King, model Chrissy Teigen, and a cancer patient in Nevada.
"Today, I celebrate this great victory," Morgaine says. "But tomorrow, the battle continues."
And now that she's been reinstated, she's waiting for the right moment to post a comment on Paul Gosar's Facebook page.
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