A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Trump’s practice of blocking critical voices on Twitter violates the First Amendment. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with the argument made by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University that the president’s Twitter feed constitutes a “designated public forum,” and that Trump therefore can’t block users based on their political views.
The ruling—in a case brought by seven Twitter users who had been blocked by the @realDonaldTrump account, and who were joined by the Knight Institute—extends to all public officials, meaning that it has the potential to impact the communications of everyone from local representatives to US Senators. The plaintiffs argued that Trump’s twitter feed amounted to a virtual town hall, and that blocking users from seeing his tweets violated their First Amendment rights.
Judge Buchwald disagreed with the government’s argument that Trump’s own First Amendment rights allowed him to speak with whomever he chose, writing, “the viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President’s personal First Amendment interests.”
In a statement following the ruling, Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, said, “The First Amendment prohibits government officials from suppressing speech on the basis of viewpoint. The court’s application of that principle here should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media.”
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trump-twitter-case.php