A federal court in New York ruled Wednesday that the President of the United States Donald Trump cannot block his Twitter critics if he doesn’t like their opinions. The judge found that the U.S. leader is trampling on Twitter users’ constitutional rights whenever he silences them.
- Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald also ruled that Twitter is a “public forum” so Trump should allow even his critics speak their minds freely.
- The judge’s decision is at odds with Trump’s supporters’ view of his Twitter activities.
The president’s supporters have argued that Twitter is a private company, so it should have a 1st Amendment right. As a result, the company is free to set its own rules including allowing users to block other users.
In her Wednesday decision, Judge Buchwald tried to pair the free speech issues with the relatively new environment for communication called Twitter. She acknowledged that the micro-blogging website is a private entity and that Trump created his @realDonaldTrump account as a private individual before he was elected.
Trump’s Account Is Public Forum
But the judge underlined that the U.S. leader and his adviser for social media Daniel Scavino exercise direct control over the account. This means that the @realDonaldTrump account has been turned into a “designated public forum.”
As a result, other Twitter users who have a verified account are free to view the President’s tweets, give a reply, and access the President’s Twitter page to look at the threads containing his tweets.
Judge Buchwald added that blocked users can find a way to see Trump’s tweets, but plaintiffs have complained that those methods are “burdensome.”
The court has not issued an order to force the President to unlock blocked users. Buchwald was confident that the President, like any other government official, “is not above the law” and he should do that without coercion since he is presumed to follow the law.
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