Trump's Twitter blocking violates First Amendment, court rules

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Judge Buchwald disagreed with the government's argument that Trump's own First Amendment rights allowed him to speak with whomever he chose, writing, "the viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and can not be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests".

New York Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that it's unconstitutional for the head of state to block Twitter users from his account simply because he doesn't agree with them, especially because Trump is a public figure who uses his personal account for political purposes.

"The blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the @realDonaldTrump account due to their expressed political views violates the First Amendment", declared the judge, a Clinton appointee who serves on a court in NY. "The answer to both questions is no".

"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end", Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said in a statement.

During a hearing this year, she suggested that Mr. Trump could "mute" offending accounts so he wouldn't have to hear from them, but they could still interact with others beneath his tweets - a compromise that doesn't appear to have gained traction with the president.

People on Twitter are unable to see or respond to tweets from accounts that block them.

Neither the White House nor Twitter (Twitter was not named in the lawsuit) has commented on the case, as of this writing.

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In the original suit, the group of blocked users describe Mr. Trump's frequent use of Twitter as "a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public". "Trump's personal Twitter account has become a public forum and this court concluded that he can not block those who disagree with him and only allow those who agree with him".

Trump was a prolific tweeter from his @RealDonaldTrump account even before being elected in 2016 and has since made it an integral and controversial part of his presidency.

Eugene Volokh - a University of California Los Angeles School of Law professor who specialises in First Amendment issues - said the decision's effect would reach beyond Trump.

As such, he is breaking the First Amendment on free speech by preventing people from being able to see his posts, responses to his posts, or contact him over the service - if they are logged in to Twitter. "If that's the case, the government doesn't get to pick and choose who is allowed in".

However, by late Wednesday afternoon, Cohen said he remained unable to view Trump's tweets. In July, a federal court in Virginia said the chair of a county board of supervisors had violated the First Amendment rights of a constituent by blocking him from the county's Facebook page.

All Pres. Trump's many tweets come from his trusty iPhone, and he's not shy about blocking people who use this social network platform to respond to his comments.

"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.

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