Wednesday, August 12, 2020

President Trump blocking people on Twitter in violation of First Amendment, lawsuit claims

President Trump is being sued for blocking people on Twitter. A free-speech organization, The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, followed up with an additional lawsuit on Friday arguing that President Donald Trump’s actions of blocking people on Twitter are in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit claims that the President’s Twitter account should be treated as a “public forum” run by a government executive that shouldn’t block free speech or expression of opinions. Donald Trump’s legal team appealed the lawsuit, claiming that Trump can do as he wishes with his private account. However, the circuit court declined to review the decision in March, Forbes reports.

Since then, the plaintiffs have been unblocked from Trump’s Twitter account. However, Trump’s legal team also said that people who can’t specify the tweet that provoked the president to block them and people who were blocked before the president took office were not intended to be blocked by the president.

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The lawsuit claims that the blocking “unconstitutionally restricts” individuals in participating in a public forum (Trump’s Twitter account), access public statements, and “petition the government for redress of grievances.” Though the president has a separate Twitter account (@potus), the @readDonaldTrump is more frequently used by President Trump to announce political news and updates.

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Barrington D. Parker writes in an opinion, “Since he took office, the President has consistently used the Account as an important tool of governance and executive outreach.” He also adds that government officials can’t block people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

What do you think? Should the president’s personal Twitter account be considered a “public forum” as it is widely used as a presidential account? Or should the lawsuit be dismissed? Let us know in the comments below!

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