Judge Rules President Donald Trump Cannot Block Twitter Trolls
25 May, 2018, 23:14 | Author: Edward Snyder
A U.S. court has ruled the country's controversial president can not block someone on Twitter "in response to the political views that person has expressed".
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of NY agreed with the Knight Institute that Trump's Twitter account is a public forum, which means the First Amendment prevents public officials from restricting access based on people's viewpoints.
But Buchwald did not order Trump or Scavino to unblock the individual plaintiffs in the case or prohibit them from blocking others from the account based on their views as the plaintiffs' had asked.
"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", Kerri Kupec, Justice Department spokesperson said. In a 75-page decision, Judge Naomi Buchwald said Trump, as a federal official, is not exempt from constitutional obligations to refrain from "viewpoint discrimination".
Buchwald agreed with the plaintiffs' contention that the discussions arising from Trump's tweets should be considered a public forum. Plaintiffs include institutions such as Knight center of Columbia University, and individuals such as Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at University of Maryland, blocked in June 2017 after answering a message from President With a text that said: "Corrupt, incompetent, authoritarian".
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he boards Air Force One to travel to NY from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., May 23, 2018.
The people who sued were blocked for tweets that made fun of the President or opposed his views, the suit said.
"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 Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional", Buchwald wrote. With over 50 million followers, Trump is the world's most followed world leader.
"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.
"As to the muting, I think that is an option", Fallow said at the time.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
"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.
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