First Amendment group sues Donald Trump for blocking Twitter users
13 July, 2017, 00:37 | Author: Ora Austin
As promised, a First Amendment group has filed suit in federal court on behalf of a group of Twitter users who were offended after they were blocked by Trump or his surrogates from following the President's social media account.
Defendants besides Trump who were named include White House President Sean Spicer, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, and White House aides who assist with Trump's account. Niven turned a screenshot of the block notification into a badge of honor, tweeting "I'm blocked on Twitter by the President of the United States".
The whole thing sounds a little far-fetched until you think about just how much current news and policy is disseminated exclusively on the platform by a White House happy to eschew communication norms.
"My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL", Trump said on Twitter in early July, for example.
The plaintiffs are asking the Federal District Court for the Southern District of NY to rule that Trump's blocking is unconstitutional, to force him to unblock them, and to forbid him from blocking anyone in the future.
"It's like barring people at the door of a city council meeting because they criticized your policy", said Katie Fallow, a senior attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, which is representing the blockedTwitter users.
US PresidentDonald Trump has been sued by the First Amendment advocates on Tuesday, saying it is unconstitutional to block his critics from following him on Twitter. It is also a public forum for speech from, about, and to the U.S. President. Cohen is one of seven individuals who are suing the President for blocking them on Twitter.
They allege their First Amendment right to free speech is being infringed upon because they can no longer view and reply to Trump's tweets.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Usually public forums are actually owned by the government, but Trump's (and by extension the government's) control of his Twitter account should overcome the technical difference between private and government ownership", Magarian said. However, the right to freedom of speech is not a right to be heard.
While @realDonaldTrump began as a personal account in 2009, it has become an official communications channel, the complaint contends, noting that it has 33 million followers - 14 million more than @POTUS and 19 million more than @WhiteHouse. The writer regularly and publicly criticizes Trump on social media, but on June 13 he discovered that he was blocked. People have the right to say what they want, and nobody else is under any obligation to listen.
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