Trump can no longer block Twitter users
President Donald Trump can no longer block Twitter users who have a different political opinion than his, a federal district court judge ruled Wednesday. It’s beyond ridiculous that this situation had to be brought before a judge for Trump to act responsibly when it comes to the First Amendment, but at this point exactly no one is shocked.
In a 75-page opinion, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, explained that Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum. Because of that, when the 71-year-old blocks people who disagree with his politics he’s committing viewpoint discrimination, which violates the First Amendment.
Buchwald went on to explain that Trump could have simply ignored the tweets users sent him. “No First Amendment harm arises when a government’s ‘challenged conduct’ is simply to ignore the [speaker], as the Supreme Court has affirmed ‘that it is free to do,'” she explained. “Stated otherwise, ‘a person’s right to speak is not infringed when government simply ignores that person while listening to others,’ or when the government ‘amplifies’ the voice of one speaker over those of others.” Her ruling also touched on muting Twitter users. “Muting preserves the muted account’s ability to reply to a tweet sent by the muting account, blocking precludes the blocked user from ‘seeing or replying to the blocking user’s tweets’ entirely,” she wrote.
The Hill reported that the lawsuit also named White House social media director and assistant to the president Daniel Scavino. While Buchwald didn’t order the two to unblock folks immediately she made it very clear that they needed to do so. “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 explained.
Some of the accounts Trump blocked included @VoteVets, which is an organization of 560,000 veterans, military families, and supporters. It seems strange Trump would block them considering he constantly claims to care about veterans. Model and Twitter queen Chrissy Teigen was also blocked by Trump and she seems thrilled with the ruling.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 23, 2018
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed the lawsuit against Trump on behalf of seven people who were blocked because of opinions shared in their reply tweets. The ruling is seen by policy experts as a victory for free speech in the digital age.