Trump can't block users from his Twitter feed, federal judge rules

A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that President Trump is in violation of the Constitution when he blocks users on Twitter

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of NY agreed with the Knight Institute that Trump's Twitter account is a public forum, which means the First Amendment prevents public officials from restricting access based on people's viewpoints.

The group had questioned the court as to whether a public official can "block" a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views expressed by the concerned person, and whether the US President falls under the purview of such a "public official".

"We're pleased with the court's decision", said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director.

In the past week, he has repeatedly claimed in multiple tweets that the Justice Department put a "spy" inside his presidential campaign to frame him for "crimes he didn't commit" amid mounting questions over his campaign's possible collusion with Russian Federation.

It is unclear if Trump would unblock those he had blocked and the judge did not explicitly rule on that. The decision says that "no government official - including the President - is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared".

The president has more than 52.2 million Twitter followers and has tweeted more than 37,600 times since opening his account in March 2009.

The decision marks a victory for free-speech activists representing seven Twitter users who alleged that their rights had been infringed after they tweeted at Trump critiquing his policies.

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Back in 2017, Refinery29 reported that Trump blocked the host and model over a series of Trump jabs she made, with the final straw being a tweet that read "Lolllllll no one likes you".

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

The judge acknowledged that even though the president has certain free speech rights, he can not violate the rights of other Twitter users.

Duke University constitutional law professor Stuart Benjamin said he disagreed with Buchwald's finding that parts of Trump and other officials' Twitter accounts were public forums.

The Justice Department defended Trump's Twitter activity, contending that muting is within the president's "associational freedoms".

Twitter has always been dogged by questions about how far its users' right to speech may extend.

Buchwald stopped short of accepting the request for an injunction against Trump and his social media aide, Dan Scavino, who was also named in the complaint, saying she expected the White House to abide by her "declaratory" ruling.

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