Donald Trump isn't allowed to block his critics on Twitter, judge rules

Donald Trump Twitter face and US flag

Donald Trump isn't allowed to block his critics on Twitter, judge rules

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Donald Trump's use of the Twitter block button violated the First Amendment. "As long as they remain blocked, 'the Individual Plaintiffs can not view the President's tweets; directly reply to these tweets; or use the @realDonaldTrump webpage to view the comment threads associated with the President's tweets while they are logged in to their verified accounts, '" she wrote, quoting from a court document.

Like a lot of people, the President has taken to blocking people who criticise him - but he's going to have to unblock them after a judge ruled he is violating the First Amendment.

"While we must recognise, and are sensitive to, the president's personal First Amendment rights, he can not exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticised him", she said.

The judge noted that another defendant, Daniel Scavino - the White House's social media director and an assistant to the president - can unblock those followers without the president needing to do it himself. Blocking detractors is more than just ignoring their comments, she said.

No matter what your political views are, I think we can all agree that the fact we live in a country where former reality TV star, and current USA president, Donald Trump may be held in contempt of court for not unblocking Stephen King on Twitter is reason enough to take a step back and examine ourselves, as a nation.

This is likely pretty far down on Trump's long list of legal concerns, and Buchwald didn't even actually order Trump to do so. "The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional".

"A declaratory judgment should be sufficient, as no government official - including the president - is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law", she said.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", Justice Department spokeswoman Kerry Kupec said in a statement.

Justice Department attorneys argued that the account was personal and therefore immune to those claims.

Some recipients of Trump's trigger-happy block finger include Chrissy Tiegan, Stephen King, Rosie O'Donnell, and professional cyclist Joe Pap.

Her analysis highlights the conversational nature of Twitter as a platform, and notes that Trump would have been better off muting the users whose opinions he'd rather not read because blocking them restricts their ability to speak by limiting their ability to reply to his tweets.

Donald Trump's use of Twitter has always been controversial, and he has developed something of a penchant for blocking people who dare to question or criticize him.

"The judge followed clear law: A government official can not give selective access of this sort", Chereminsky said.

The distinction between muting and blocking showed the judge applied a subtle, but sophisticated, understanding of Twitter and social media, said Aaron Caplan, a professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles specialising in constitutional law.

Enlarge / These Twitter users are participating in a constitutionally protected public forum, a federal judge has ruled.

The government did not dispute that Mr. Trump blocked people because of those kinds of antagonistic tweets.

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