On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York ruled that President Trump is in violation of the Constitution when he blocks users on Twitter.
In her ruling, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote 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. We hold that portions of the @realDonaldTrump account the ‘interactive space’ where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the President’s tweets are properly analyzed under the “‘public forum’ doctrines set forth by the Supreme Court, that such space is a designated public forum, and that the blocking of the plaintiffs based on their political speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment”.
The Knight Institute, which filed the suit on behalf of several individuals who have been blocked by Trump, applauded the decision saying “we’re pleased with the court’s decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform. The President’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”
The Justice Department defended Trump’s Twitter activity, contending that muting is within the president’s “associational freedoms.” He may be president, the DOJ argued, but Trump still maintains a right to decide who he spends time with on the social media platform.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and former White House communications director Hope Hicks, both of whom were named in the suit, were dismissed as defendants. A Justice Department spokeswoman said “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”