United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW.
C. WIMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
April 19, 2019, the Court held a bench trial in the
above-captioned case. Plaintiff Mike Campbell appeared in
person and through counsel J. Andrew Hirth. Defendant
Representative Cheri Toalson Reisch appeared in person and
through counsel Lowell D. Pearson and Michael Owens. The
Court, being duly advised of the premises, having considered
the record, the evidence presented at trial, and the
parties' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of
law, finds as follows.
seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendant
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks a
declaration that Defendant's blocking Plaintiff on
Twitter “is a viewpoint-based restriction of speech in
a designated public forum in violation of the First and
Fourteenth Amendments.” (Doc. #22). Additionally,
Plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction barring Defendant from
continuing to block Plaintiff from her Twitter page based on
the content or viewpoint of Plaintiff's speech, and
further, barring Defendant from blocking any other Twitter
user based on the content or viewpoint of those users'
Plaintiff is an adult resident of Centralia, Missouri who is
a registered voter within district that Defendant represents.
Defendant is an adult resident of Hallsville, Missouri, and
is a State Representative for the 44th District of the
Missouri House of Representatives.
Twitter is a social media platform with more than 300 million
active users worldwide, including approximately 70 million
users in the United States.
Twitter allows users to publish short messages to the general
public called “tweets”; to republish or respond
to others' tweets; and to interact with other Twitter
A tweet may include photographs, videos, and hyperlinks but
cannot exceed 280 characters.
Each Twitter user has a unique account name or “handle,
” which comprises an @ symbol followed by a word or
Users may choose to “follow” other Twitter
account holders by searching for their handles and clicking
the “follow” button.
A “followed” user's tweets automatically
appear in the “following” user's Twitter
“feed, ” which is a continuously-updating scroll
of new tweets from other users.
A user may comment on the tweets of other users, or she may
“retweet” their tweets to her own followers.
Users may also see a log of their own past tweets, comments,
and retweets, along with any comments or retweets they have
received from their own followers.
Some Twitter users publish hundreds of tweets per day while
others merely read the tweets that appear in their Twitter
Twitter also allows its users to block certain other users
from following their tweets.
If the blocked user attempts to follow the blocking user, or
attempts to access the Twitter account from which the user is
blocked, the blocked user will see a message indicating that
the other user has blocked her from following the account and
viewing the tweets associated with the account.
Like many members of the Missouri General Assembly, Defendant
has a Twitter account.
Defendant uses the Twitter handle @CheriMO44.
The “MO44” in her Twitter handle
“CheriMO44” refers to the 44th District of the
Missouri House of Representatives, for which Defendant is the
On her Twitter page, Defendant describes herself as a
“Christian, MO State Rep 44thDistrict,
Below Defendant's description on her Twitter page is a
circle with a downward facing point and the words
“District 44, Missouri, USA, ” which refers to
her district in the Missouri House.
Below the reference to her house district is a link to
cheri44.com, which is Defendant's campaign page.
The banner photo at the top of Defendant's Twitter page
shows Defendant sitting at her desk on the House floor.
The circular photo above Defendant's profile shows
Defendant on the House floor.
Defendant's Twitter account was created in September 2015
when she announced her candidacy for the 44th District of the
The first tweet from Defendant's Twitter account, which
was written by Defendant's nephew and released on
September 21, 2015 stated, “I am proud to announce my
candidacy to represent Missouri's 44th District.
Let's work together and create opportunities for jobs and
education.” 24. On November 17, 2015,
Defendant tweeted a copy of a letter on her campaign
stationery seeking contributions to her campaign for the 44th
Missouri House seat.
On November 20, 2015, Defendant tweeted a photograph of
herself standing with Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson
and thanking him for his leadership in the House.
Throughout the first ten months of 2016, Defendant posted
dozens of tweets about her campaign for the Missouri House,
frequently using the hashtags #MO44 and #TeamCheri.
On November 8, 2018, Defendant announced her successful
election as Representative of the 44th House ...