Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Trump blocking critics on Twitter violates Constitution: US judge

Trump blocking critics on Twitter violates Constitution: US judge

US President Donald Trump may not "block" Twitter users from viewing his online profile due to their political beliefs, a judge in NY has ruled.

Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY ruled that Twitter serves as a "designated public forum" and is protected under the plaintiffs' First Amendment, which is the aspect of U.S. Constitution that deals with free speech.

"In sum, we conclude that the blocking of the individual plaintiffs as a result of the political views they have expressed is impermissible under the First Amendment", Buchwald wrote in the 75-page ruling. But the fact remains that a federal judge has said that the First Amendment applies on social media.

"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.

Buchwald said that their inability to reply to Trump's tweets after being blocked amounted to a violation of their First Amendment rights.

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Trump is free to use his Twitter account in whatever ridiculous and absurd way he chooses, no matter how badly it backfires on him or how many times courts use his tweets against him.

Donald Trump has 52 million followers on Twitter and, since his inauguration, uses the social media platform to communicate and interact with the public about his administration.

US District Judge in New York Southern District Naomi Reice Buchwald gave her ruling on a petition filed by a group of seven followers who alleged that president Trump unlawfully barred them from viewing his feed.

In what might just be one of the more freakish tech stories of the week, the judge's decision is the result of a case brought against the President by a group of Twitter users he'd blocked.

As such, he is breaking the First Amendment on free speech by preventing people from being able to see his posts, responses to his posts, or contact him over the service - if they are logged in to Twitter.

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The White House directed queries to the Department of Justice, where a spokeswoman said in a statement, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps". "If that's the case, the government doesn't get to pick and choose who is allowed in". The court decided that the president's own First Amendment rights did not override the plaintiffs.

However, if you click on a Donald Trump tweet, you'll see a long list of replies to that tweet listed underneath.

"If Twitter exercised control over blocking, the finding of government control would be undermined", Eric Easton, the faculty director at the University of Baltimore's School of Law's LL.M. program, told Observer."It's not really a legal question, but a policy question for them on whether they do that".

It's not clear, as of this writing, how many Twitter users Trump has blocked - it could be a few dozen, it could be thousands.

The Knight Institute hopes that the ruling against Trump will set a precedent for other public officials across the country.

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