Duke Med alumnus wins lawsuit against Trump for blocking him on Twitter
25 May, 2018, 23:15
Giving her ruling in Manhattan, the federal judge said that Trump's Twitter account is a "designated public forum" and that the "viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and can not be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests".
It took more than 280 characters, but a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that President Trump and his aides can not block critics from seeing his Twitter account simply because they had posted caustic replies to his tweets in the past.
Judge Buchwald said that the answer to both the questions was no.
The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of Twitter users and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said in a release that his organization was pleased.
Read the full opinion here.
However, the US Department of Justice opposed with the court decision.
The ruling marks the latest legal blow to Trump. "N$3 o government official - including the President - is above the law", she wrote, "and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared".
The case was brought a year ago by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University after seven Twitter users were blocked by Trump.
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.
These claimants can not view Trumps tweets, reply to them or see the comments thread underneath them.
Twitter is much more than a social network for Donald Trump.
Buchwald agreed with the plaintiffs' contention that the discussions arising from Trump's tweets should be considered a public forum.
And though the @RealDonaldTrump account was created long before the election, "the President and [his assistant Daniel] Scavino's present use of the @realDonaldTrump account weighs far more heavily in the analysis than the origin of the account as the creation of private citizen Donald Trump".
"I think this decision is correct", Giampietro said. "That is much less restrictive and burdensome on the plaintiffs' speech rights".
The judge did, however, state that Trump could mute Twitter users, which remains constitutional as he still has the ability to reply to an account that he has muted.
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