Several Twitter users were blocked by President Trump’s account are filing a lawsuit against the president and two of his White House aides. The group are claiming that he does not have a constitutional right to bar them as he’s a government official.
Constitution To Social Media
Represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the group have raised the issue of how the constitution applies to social media. They argue that Trump cannot prevent people from engaging with his account just because he doesn’t like their opinions, or that they’re mock or criticize him.
“The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit argues that by blocking users from reading his tweets or from replying or viewing message chains, that he’s violating their First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit also names Sean Spicer, White House press secretary and Dan Scavina, Trump’s social media director. The suit was filed at the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs want a declaration that forces Trump to unblock them and prohibit him from blocking others. They’ve also included that he should also pay for the legal fees.
The lawsuit came after a letter was sent by the Knight First Amendment Institute, to Trump. They had asked them to remove the blocks last month but the White House did nothing.
Some argue that because that was Trump’s personal account, he had the right to block anyone because it was not an official government account. They go on to say that they users can still view his tweets publicly as long as they weren’t signed in to their accounts.
However, Knight argue that he has used his “personal” account for White House related matters, such as:
Mr. Trump announced his nomination of Christopher A. Wray as F.B.I. director on Twitter, and the White House sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee pointing to Mr. Trump’s denial on Twitter that he had taped his conversations with the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, as an answer to the panel’s questions about that matter.
“My use of social media is not Presidential — it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” Mr. Trump tweeted on July 1.
Justice Anthony M Kennedy said that social media has become “the modern public square.” Several other blocked users have since joined the effort. One of those users was Rebecca Buckwalter, from the liberal Center for American progress, who was blocked because of her response to a tweet Trump claimed “fake news” regarding his winning the White House and she responded that,
“To be fair you didn’t win the WH: Russia won it for you”