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

US District Judge in New York Southern District Naomi Reice Buchwald announced the ruling based on a petition filed by a group of 7 people who alleged that President Trump unlawfully blocked them on Twitter.

President Donald Trump can not legally block Twitter users who disagree with him, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a case with potentially far-reaching implications for social media use by public officials.

"The blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the @realDonaldTrump account due to their expressed political views violates the First Amendment", declared the judge, a Clinton appointee who serves on a court in NY.

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

"The court ruling is a major win for the First Amendment rights of the public on social media", says EFF civil liberties director David Greene.

"Clock's ticking", wrote Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which argued the case for the blocked account holders. The New York judge, appointed in 1999, offered a solution that Trump simply "mute" certain accounts. He had already amassed 20.5 million followers and had posted 34,300 tweets before he took office in January 2017.

While the court has ruled the blocking is unconstitutional, it said the ability to mute a person was not - and so the safe space nurtured by the president and his social media team will remain mostly intact.

The White House has yet to comment on the judge's ruling.

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She ruled in favor of a handful of Twitter users Mr. Trump blocked after they posted antagonistic or obnoxious replies to his @realDonaldTrump account.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", Kerri Kupec, Justice Department spokesperson said.

Dissenting view: National Review's David French argues against the ruling, writing that because "Donald Trump's Twitter feed isn't a government-controlled forum", the First Amendment protections for public forums shouldn't apply. "If all goes well, Hollywood will immortalize him as an evildoer who got his comeuppance".

Trump is free to ignore critical comments, the judge said, or to bring greater attention to ones he likes. "A lot of times with First Amendment cases, the people who were affected by the decision come up with some kind of workaround so they're still in compliance with the First Amendment [while] accomplishing their goals".

What about the fact that you can still see all of Trump's tweets and responses if you simply log out of your account?

One of the people that Mr Trump blocked, Holly O'Reilly, who uses the account @AynRandPaulRyan, was blocked last May after posting a GIF of Mr Trump meeting with Pope Francis.

The judge acknowledged that even though the president has certain free speech rights, he can not violate the rights of other Twitter users.

Citing school uniforms as an example of how institutions deter students from wearing provocative or political clothing, Mitchell added that a ruling made in a district court does not set a legal precedent.

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