Donald Trump Cannot Block People on Twitter, US Judge Rules

Donald Trump Cannot Block People on Twitter, US Judge Rules

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled on Wednesday that Twitter is a "designated public forum", and, therefore, no elected official could block another user for political speech.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald wrote: "The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is prescribed by the First Amendment and can not be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests".

On Wednesday, a judge in NY described the president's Twitter account as a public forum, and said blocking Twitter users for their views violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. For a public forum to exist, the government has to own or control it, he said, but in this case, Twitter also controls Trump's account.

The judge declared that "because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the president and [digital director Dan] Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional".

"The judge is taking a social media account launched well before Donald Trump was a public official and declaring it to be a public forum". Plaintiffs include institutions such as Knight center of Columbia University, and individuals such as Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at University of Maryland, blocked in June 2017 after answering a message from President With a text that said: "Corrupt, incompetent, authoritarian".

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Josh Geltzer, executive director of Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, said the court's ruling is a critical victory in preserving free speech in the digital age. "The President's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end". At the time, a Justice Department attorney agreed that muting would enable Trump to avoid a tweet he doesn't want to read. For Manhattan magistrate account is part of public forum and as such can not escape First Amendment, adopted in 1791 to protect freedom of expression.

"I think this decision is correct", Giampietro said.

There was no immediate response to the ruling from the White House.

In an amicus brief filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued governmental use of social media platforms to communicate to and with the public, and allow the public to communicate with each other, is now the rule of democratic engagement, not the exception.

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