Florida lawmaker prevails in legal case over Twitter, Facebook blocking
Chuck Clemons.

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Peter Attwood said costs in the case after three years have grown too high.

A constituent blocked from Rep. Chuck Clemons’ social media dropped his lawsuit against the lawmaker.

Gainesville resident Peter Attwood filed a motion Saturday to voluntarily dismiss his case.

“Plaintiff, a private citizen represented by pro bono counsel, has decided that the potential benefits of continuing this litigation are outweighed by the costs, including to the taxpayers funding Mr. Clemons’ defense,” the motion reads.

A federal trial was set for June 7 after a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last year rejecting Clemons’ argument he should be shielded from litigation.

Judge Mark Walker on Monday canceled the upcoming trial and stayed any pretrial deadlines. He still ordered Clemons’ attorneys to respond to Attwood’s motion to dismiss by Monday at the latest.

Attwood said Clemons has already voluntarily agreed to many of the measures pursued by the lawsuit. The Newberry Republican lawmaker has stopped labeling his personal social media with his public office title and letting a legislative intern moderate the accounts.

Clemons has also said he will not continue to use accounts marked as official state House social media after leaving office, according to Attwood’s motion. Clemons was first elected in 2016, so 2022, presuming he wins reelection, will mark the last consecutive election in which he can run before term limits prevent him from seeking another term in the House.

Attwood, in February 2018, retweeted a statement by a gun-control activist and linked the retweet to Clemons’ Twitter handle, asking the lawmaker to explain a vote related to gun control. Clemons subsequently blocked Attwood on Twitter and Facebook, court documents show.

Notably, federal courts ruled in 2019 then-President Donald Trump could not block individuals from a Twitter account he used for any official capacity, including his personal account.

Attwood said in his motion he’s confident he would eventually prevail but suspects the case would be drawn out.

“While Plaintiff is certain that Mr. Clemons violated the law by retaliating against his own constituent for questioning his vote on pending legislation and Plaintiff is confident he would prevail in trial, Plaintiff now also anticipates that (Clemons) would appeal any adverse trial judgment and would further delay the resolution of this litigation until after he leaves office,” Attwood’s motion reads.

Ultimately, that would mean putting more money into a case of mostly symbolic consequence.

“(Clemons) has prevailed only in draining Plaintiff’s resources and in delaying this proceeding for more than three years with no end in sight,” Atwood’s motion reads. “Enough is enough.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



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