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Judge: President can't block critics

25 May, 2018, 21:44 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Critics have a right to critic

A federal judge in NY ruled Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users because doing so violates their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

It took more than 280 characters, but a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that President Trump and his aides can not block critics from seeing his Twitter account simply because they had posted caustic replies to his tweets in the past.

The Knight First Amendment Institute and the individual Twitter users claimed that by blocking users for their views, Mr Trump was shutting them out of discussion in a public forum, violating the First Amendment.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the agency respectfully disagrees with the court's decision and is considering its next steps.

Earlier this year a judge suggested that he should make use of the mute option instead of blocking Twitter users, and now another judge has ruled that blocking critics is unconstitutional.

The case could affect other social media interactions involving public officials.

"We certainly hope that other public officials will take note of the ruling and will operate their social media accounts consistent with the First Amendment restrictions on their ability to silence critics", DeCell said.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Trump and his aides can not block critics on Twitter.

President Donald Trump has made directing scorn on Twitter a defining feature of his presidency.

O'Reilly told The Outline that she wasn't particularly surprised by the court's decision today, since District Judge Buchwald had already pointed out that Trump can simply mute people on Twitter rather than blocking them.

While the Department of Justice has said that it is contemplating its next move, it's safe to assume that the ruling will be appealed.

In a lengthy discussion of what does and does not constitute a public forum, the basic argument in favor of finding Trump's account a public forum - and by extension all public official's social media presences - is that allowing for free and open debate does not in any way impinge or prevent the person for continuing to communicate.

Genevieve Lakier, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who helped write a friend-of-the-court brief filed by First Amendment scholars, welcomed Wednesday's decision. The plaintiffs argued that Trump's twitter feed amounted to a virtual town hall, and that blocking users from seeing his tweets violated their First Amendment rights. "If all goes well, Hollywood will immortalize him as an evildoer who got his comeuppance". Trump had argued that the court did not have the power to issue a direct order against the president.

This also sets an interesting precedent as regarding other social networks; in fact, the Institute is now representing a user in a similar complaint involving Facebook, but it is too early to draw any conclusions.

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.


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