Judge: President Trump blocking people on Twitter is unconstitutional

  • Judge: President Trump blocking people on Twitter is unconstitutional

Judge: President Trump blocking people on Twitter is unconstitutional

The case was brought by aggrieved members of "Verified Liberal Twitter", a bottom-feeding group of Twitter users that cultivates likes, retweets, and followers on the platform by piggybacking on the President's tweets.

According to Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, the president's posts are an open public forum, and preventing users with constitutional rights from seeing those posts qualifies as viewpoint discrimination, a violation of the First Amendment.

A USA 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.

Buchwald said Trump could "mute" users, meaning he would not see their tweets while they could still respond to his, without violating their free speech rights.

Pop those bottles, First Amendment-lovers.

While she said the President should "remedy the blocking", Judge Buchwald stopped short of directly ordering Mr Trump to unblock users.

The controversy stems from Trump's embrace of the platform as his soapbox to attack his critics, laud his supporters and announce administration policies.

Reice also rejected the DOJ's argument that Trump has a First Amendment right to "block" individuals he doesn't wish to engage with, noting that blocking people limits their rights to interact with other Twitter users.

The decision is a remarkable coda to one of the more peculiar debates of Trump's presidency, and a victory for the First Amendment advocates who brought the lawsuit a year ago.

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The judge said Trump couldn't suppress such responses.

"No First Amendment harm arises when a government's 'challenged conduct is simply to ignore the [speaker],' as the Supreme Court has affirmed that '[t] hat it is free to do, '" Buchwald wrote in her ruling. Instead, doing so limits their "right to speak in a discrete, measurable way".

It's not clear, as of this writing, how many Twitter users Trump has blocked - it could be a few dozen, it could be thousands. Twitter lets its users mute one another.

"Because of the way the President and his aides use the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, the account is a public forum under the First Amendment", the lawsuit states.

"The answer to both questions is no", Buchwald wrote at the top of her opinion.

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".

The judge did not issue an order against Trump, and the plaintiffs did not ask for one.

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

"The essence of this ruling is that viewpoint discrimination is prohibited", Calvert said.

It is also noted that "the Individual Plaintiffs can view tweets from @realDonaldTrump when using an internet browser or other application that is not logged in to Twitter, or that is logged in to a Twitter account that is not blocked by @realDonaldTrump", and that "some of the Individual Plaintiffs have established second accounts so that they can view the President's tweets".