Trump Cannot Block People On Twitter, Judge Rules

Posted May 25, 2018

Furthermore, the second part of the judge's ruling, that public figures have no right to block users on social media in response to their political views, also has implications that range far beyond Trump.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in NY ruled Trump violates the First Amendment by blocking critics on Twitter for political speech.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which brought the case on behalf of the blocked Verified Liberals, argued that the President had violated the rights of the blocked users by limiting their participation in a public forum.

"The answer to both questions is no", Buchwald said in her 75-page judgement.

"The court made clear that there was a First Amendment violation taking place", said Eric Goldman, professor and co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law.

The case was brought forward by seven Twitter users who have been blocked on Twitter by the U.S. President.

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She said Trump could "mute" users, meaning he would not see their tweets while they could still respond to his, without violating their free speech rights. "Anyone with a Twitter account who has not been blocked may participate in the interactive space by replying or retweeting the president's tweets", she writes.

In other words, Trump's critics have a First Amendment right to tweet at him, even if he doesn't like what they have to say.

It was argued that as an elected official Trump's Twitter is a valid channel for official communication - a White House press office probably just choked on its skimmed latte - and should be openly accessible to anyone.

Donald Trump has broken the United States Constitution, a NY district court ruled Wednesday, putting the USA president in legal hot water.

Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said in an email: "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

"The more important social media becomes to the public discourse, the more important it becomes to defend First Amendment rights on social media", DeCell said.

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Judge Buchwald said she wouldn't order Mr. Trump and Mr. Scavino to change their behavior and didn't want to get into a separation of powers battle.

Donald Trump uses his Twitter account for policy and diplomatic announcements as well as to lash out at the media and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Twitter, which wasn't a party to the lawsuit, declined to comment. As such, if he blocks people and thereby prevents them from seeing his messages, he is breaking the First Amendment. And that, ruled Naomi Buchwald, a New York Federal judge, raises a constitutional problem.

What about the fact that you can still see all of Trump's tweets and responses if you simply log out of your account?

It's unclear how many people have been blocked by Trump.

And while there is an unnerving number of references to legal battles that Richard Nixon fought while president, there is a much larger precedent in play: whether any public official can block citizens on social media.

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