August 15, 2018

Can the Federal Judge's Ruling On Trump's Twitter Actually Be Enforced?

24 May 2018, 07:15 | Rodolfo Wallace

Judge rules Trump can't block people from Twitter account

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A federal judge in NY ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump can't block people from his Twitter account because they disagree with his political views, saying such action violates the First Amendment.

The seven plaintiffs believed "that his or her personal First Amendment rights have been and will continue to be encumbered, and the ability to communicate has been and will be limited because of each individual plaintiff's personal ownership of a Twitter account that was blocked" by Trump, Buchwald wrote.

As a result of the President's blocking of the Individual Plaintiffs from @realDonaldTrump, 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. The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum 1s proscribed by the First Amendment and can not be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests.

In addition to the president, defendants named in the lawsuit include former White House communications director Hope Hicks, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and social media director Dan Scavino ― the man thought to be behind much of Trump's unusual social media behavior.

The Department of Justice argued past year that users who are not logged into their Twitter accounts can still see the president's tweets online because they are public.

The judge's ruling noted that Trump has used his personal account, which has 52.2 million followers, to announce that the USA military would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve, that he meant to nominate Christopher Wray to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that he was firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.

According to the lawsuit, he had the following exchange with the president in June 2017: Trump tweeted, "Congratulations!"

"Given that no government office is above the law, we assume that the president and [Daniel] Scavino will remedy the blockade that we have considered unconstitutional", which the plaintiffs have to request to Trump, says Buchwald.

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In the ruling, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said no government official - including the President - is above the law.

"The blocking of the individual plaintiffs as a result of the political views they have expressed is impermissible under the First Amendment", she wrote.

The Justice Department has argued that Trump was acting in a personal capacity by blocking critics who often used "intentionally inflammatory language".

The blocked: Along with Cohen, several other Twitter users have accused Trump of blocking them on Twitter.

Twitter users can block people, which prevents them from seeing the user's feed while logged in.

Eugene Volokh, a University of California Los Angeles School of Law professor who specializes in First Amendment issues, said the decision's effect would reach beyond Trump.

The key question facing the judge was whether Mr. Trump's account amounted to a forum like a public park or a town square - places the Supreme Court has held to be First Amendment spheres of interaction. At that time, Judge Buchwald urged both parties to find a resolution outside of court.

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