Posted on May 23, 2018

Trump Can’t Block Twitter Followers, Federal Judge Says

Kevin Breuninger and Dan Mangan, CNBC, May 23, 2018

President Donald Trump cannot block users on his Twitter feed, a federal judge in New York City ruled Wednesday.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.

The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a “designated public forum” from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his “associational freedoms.”

The judge’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, as well as seven other plaintiffs whom Trump had personally blocked from following him.


The blocks on the social media platform prevented the plaintiffs from viewing or responding to the president’s tweets when logged into their own Twitter accounts. {snip}


“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” Buchwald said in her opinion.

“The answer to both questions is no.”


A Justice Department spokesman said, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.” The Justice Department has 60 days to appeal the ruling.

The Knight Institute’s executive director, Jameel Jaffer, said in a prepared statement: “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.”

Jaffer added: “The President’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”