Trump blocking critics on Twitter violates Constitution: US judge

25 May, 2018, 23:16 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Federal Judge rules Trump can’t block people on Twitter

The group had questioned the court as to whether a public official can "block" a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views expressed by the concerned person, and whether the US President falls under the purview of such a "public official".

The court recognizes that there's no right to speak to the President in a way that the President is obliged to read; the President remains free, for instance, to use Twitter's "mute" function, which would keep him from seeing the user's replies when he reviews his own feed.

A US judge in NY on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users from his account on the social media platform based on their political views.

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".

On Wednesday the judge agreed with their argument that the social media platform qualifies as a "designated public forum" granted to all USA citizens.

White House spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment regarding the decision and whether the President would now unblock the Twitter users.

The ruling is being viewed as a victory for freedom of speech and the public's right to communicate opposing political views directly to elected officials and government agencies. The decision says that "no government official - including the President - is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared".

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven people who were blocked by Trump had filed the lawsuit previous year.

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"The President, like other public officials, routinely engages in conduct that is not state action, whether that might be giving a toast at a wedding or giving a speech at a fundraiser", the Justice Department wrote in a brief, according to The Washington Post.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and former White House communications director Hope Hicks, both of whom were named in the suit, were dismissed as defendants.

Katie Fallow, a staff attorney at Knight who represented the plaintiffs, said the ruling "should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media".

After a hearing this year, the judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics.

"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.

Mr Trump has more than 52.2 million Twitter followers and has tweeted more than 37,600 times since 2009.

Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, said he thinks the case was wrongly decided and expects it to be reversed.

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