Trump is Being Sued for Blocking People on Twitter

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 @crousselle
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Posted: Jul 11, 2017 4:55 PM
Trump is Being Sued for Blocking People on Twitter

President Donald Trump is being sued by seven people that he allegedly blocked on Twitter. The Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute, say that being blocked by the president on his @RealDonaldTrump personal Twitter account is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Lawyers are claiming that blocking someone for having a differing view is a "restriction on their participation in a designated public forum," i.e. Twitter.

The suit was filed in New York City on Tuesday.

The institute, based at Columbia University, requested for the court to call the president’s “viewpoint-based blocking” unconstitutional and to unblock the plaintiffs on Twitter and pay their legal fees.

The formal complaint states the president’s ability to block users with dissenting views “imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their participation in a designated public forum.”

“The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings,” Knight Institute executive director Jameel Jaffer told Bloomberg. “The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president.” (The Hill)

 Trump has used his Twitter account rather freely since his inauguration, and has made several announcements via the @RealDonaldTrump account. He also apparently blocks people for a multitude of reasons. When a person is blocked on Twitter, they cannot view the tweets of the user and cannot reply to their tweets. 

His other handle, the government official @POTUS account, has not blocked people. That account tweets mostly press releases and official statements from the White House, unlike the @RealDonaldTrump's more casual tweets. 

I think it's going to be a tough sell to say that blocking someone on Twitter is a violation of the First Amendment. A person doesn't need a Twitter account to read tweets that aren't protected (blocked from public viewing), and a person is still free to tweet whatever their heart desires regardless of being blocked by someone or not.