Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Blocked by @realDonaldTrump? New Legal Challenge Could Help

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian,

Blocked by @realDonaldTrump? New Legal Challenge Could Help

Even after being sworn in, President Donald Trump has continued to use his personal Twitter account, @readDonaldTrump, to make policy statements, air his conspiracy theories, attack the media and public figures, or to conduct very public diplomacy with world leaders.
But since becoming president, Trump, or those who run his account, has also shown a prickly propensity to block anyone who dares tweet a critical remark at the account. Now that practice may face a legal challenge. Lawyers at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University have filed a complaint in a U.S. district court in New York against the president, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and White House social media director Daniel Scavino, arguing that such blocking constitutes a violation of the First Amendment.
“Because of the way the President and his aides use the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, the account is a public forum under the First Amendment,” reads the complaint, filed on July 11. “The President’s advisors have stated that tweets from @realDonaldTrump are ‘official statements,’ and they have been treated as such by politicians, world leaders, the National Archive and Records Administration, and federal courts,” the complaint argues.
Since the Twitter account is used for official government communication, blocking Twitter users deprives them of First Amendment rights, according to the complaint. ...
This is the first legal challenge against Trump for blocking Twitter users, said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute. “I think our argument is strong.” ...

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