Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Trump Can't Block His Critics On Twitter, Judge Rules

Trump Can't Block His Critics On Twitter, Judge Rules

Today, a U.S. federal court ruled that President Donald Trump can not block his followers on Twitter. But the president's preference for blocking - which renders Twitter users unable to interact directly with his posts, or with other users in the space beneath those posts - amounts to barring Americans from a public forum, in the judge's view.

The Justice Department, which argued Trump had every right to block whomever he wanted from his Twitter feed, declined to say whether it will appeal the ruling.

"The position the Trump administration is taking is that the president is entitled to block people, and that the court lacks the ability to order him to do otherwise", Mr. Jaffer said.

Although they were still able to see the tweets without logging in to Twitter, and to quote Trump's tweets in their own messages, their comments were excluded from the threads that make up a public "conversation".

In July 2017, Trump was sued by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY, along with seven individual Twitter users.

However, the US Department of Justice opposed with the court decision.

In ruling, she said no government official - including the president - is above the law.

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The decision is a remarkable coda to one of the more peculiar debates of Trump's presidency, and a victory for the First Amendment advocates who brought the lawsuit a year ago. The president has over 52 million followers on the platform and seemingly views it as a vital way to communicate with the public.

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he boards Air Force One to travel to NY from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., May 23, 2018.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which filed the lawsuit for the seven Twitter users Trump blocked, had argued that such blocking was a way to turn a public forum into an echo chamber of positive sentiment and that blocking was a seeing Twitter being "sanitised of dissent".

But if he is using his Twitter account for official business, that's "government speech" and can not be doled out to select people, said First Amendment lawyer Wayne Giampietro. According to their lawsuit, because Mr Trump frequently turns to Twitter to make policy statements, his account qualifies as a public forum from which the government can not exclude people on the basis of their views.

"As to the muting, I think that is an option", Fallow said at the time.

The court ruled that the people have a right to participate in a "public forum", which applies to social media.

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

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