Trump blocking his critics on Twitter violates First Amendment, judge rules

Trump blocking his critics on Twitter violates First Amendment, judge rules

Trump has been blocking tweets that criticize him.

"This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, "block" a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the president", Buchwald said.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Trump's practice of blocking critical voices on Twitter violates the First Amendment.

"The answer to both questions is no", Buchwald said in her 75-page judgement.

The case was brought forward by seven Twitter users who have been blocked on Twitter by the U.S. President. That means that those users are free to share their views with the Twitter universe at-large, but Trump won't have to see those tweets. Trump uses the Twitter account for policy and diplomatic announcements as well as to lash out at the media and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

In other words, Trump's critics have a First Amendment right to tweet at him, even if he doesn't like what they have to say.

In the past week, he has repeatedly claimed in multiple tweets that the Justice Department put a "spy" inside his presidential campaign to frame him for "crimes he didn't commit" amid mounting questions over his campaign's possible collusion with Russian Federation.

Buchwald stopped short of accepting the request for an injunction against Trump and his social media aide, Dan Scavino, who was also named in the complaint, saying she expected the White House to abide by her "declaratory" ruling.

The judge said she hoped Mr Trump will unblock those he had blocked on Twitter in the wake of her rule, although it was not immediately clear whether the president would take the suggestion.

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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.

The US Department of Justice, which represents the president in the case, said it disagreed with the ruling and is considering the next steps.

Twitter Inc. was not involved to the lawsuit and declined to comment.

In what might just be one of the more weird tech stories of the week, the judge's decision is the result of a case brought against the President by a group of Twitter users he'd blocked. The court decided that the president's own First Amendment rights did not override the plaintiffs.

The case is Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, 17-cv-5205, U.S. District Court, Southern District of NY.

Buchwald ruled that the tweets were "governmental in nature".

If Donald Trump blocks someone, that person loses the opportunity to reply to Trump tweets and have their tweet show up underneath them.

If Twitter is a public forum where users have First Amendment rights, that could make Twitter bans unconstitutional as well. In last year's ruling about Facebook blocking, the judge held that public officials could do a certain amount of content moderation, provided that it was done in a content-neutral manner.

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