Court: Donald Trump blocking Twitter critics unconstitutional

25 May, 2018, 23:15 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Judge rules Trump can't block people from Twitter account

A NY federal judge has ruled that President Donald Trump can not block Twitter users for their political views after the President was sued in July 2017 by a free-speech group saying the president's actions violated the First Amendment. "The answer to both questions is no".

Importantly, the ruling identifies only parts of Trump's account as a public forum subject to First Amendment protections, not the entire account nor the rest of Twitter.

The judge declared that "because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the president and [digital director Dan] Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional".

Read the full opinion here. "That's why the courts are protecting us from him".

Cohen said Trump had not yet unblocked him as of late Wednesday afternoon. Should Trump ignore the ruling, analysts say, future litigation could force Twitter to unblock Trump's followers unilaterally.

In what might just be one of the more weird tech stories of the week, the judge's decision is the result of a case brought against the President by a group of Twitter users he'd blocked.

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That interactive space is susceptible to analysis under the Supreme Court's forum doctrines, and is properly characterised as a designated public forum, judge Buchwald said.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which represents Trump in the case, said, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

President Trump and the other defendants conceded they did so because they disliked the viewpoints the plaintiffs expressed in their tweets. It argued that Trump's account constituted a public forum under the First Amendment, and that the White House was violating the plaintiffs' First Amendment right to petition their government for redress of grievances. In New York Southern District the US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald gave her decision on a petition registered by a group of seven followers who claimed that President Trump illegally blocked them from viewing his feed.

The Knight Institute hopes that the ruling against Trump will set a precedent for other public officials across the country.

"As to the muting, I think that is an option", Fallow said at the time.

In addition to Trump, the lawsuit named White House social media director and assistant to the president Daniel Scavino. "That is much less restrictive and burdensome on the plaintiffs' speech rights".

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