Trump Can't Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Judge Says

Chris Pizzello  Invision  AP Chrissy Teigen poses at the 2017 Revolve Awards at the Dream Hollywood hotel on Nov. 2 2017 in Los Angeles

President Donald Trump violates the First Amendment when he blocks critics on Twitter due to their political views, a judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump may not "block" Twitter users and those commenting on his tweets, a U.S. Federal Judge has ruled.

The virtual space provided by Twitter for replying to the President's Tweets is a "designated public forum" - a space controlled (even if not owned) by the government that is generally open for public speech to fellow members of the public, and in which the First Amendment forbids viewpoint discrimination.

The Justice Department, which argued Trump had every right to block whomever he wanted from his Twitter feed, declined to say whether it will appeal the ruling. And in his statement, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said that we politely object with the court's judgment and are contemplating our next steps.

Buchwald agreed with the plaintiffs' contention that the discussions arising from Trump's tweets should be considered a public forum.

In July 2017, Trump was sued by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY, along with seven individual Twitter users.

Josh Geltzer, executive director of Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, said the court's ruling is a critical victory in preserving free speech in the digital age.

Buchwald's ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed against Trump in July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several Twitter users.

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These claimants can not view Trumps tweets, reply to them or see the comments thread underneath them.

In addition to Mr Trump, the lawsuit named the President's social media director, Dan Scavino, as a defendant.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the ruling narrowly targets the Trump administration and is not binding on other public officials, it establishes an important legal precedent that they will be likely to follow.

It argued that the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account is a "public forum" under the First Amendment.

Notably, the decision distinguished between Twitter's block and mute functions, and the judge found the argument that Trump violated the First Amendment by using either function "unpersuasive".

It hasn't been a particularly good week on social media for Trump, as a survey by TwitterAudit surfaced recently which showed that over 10 million of his Twitter followers aren't real people.

"As to the muting, I think that is an option", Fallow said at the time.

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