Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, said President Trump's Twitter account is a public forum and blocking people who reply to his tweets with differing opinions constitutes viewpoint discrimination, which violates the First Amendment.
President Donald Trump can not legally block Twitter users who disagree with him, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a case with potentially far-reaching implications for social media use by public officials.
"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end", said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which filed the suit.
The judge ordered Trump to unblock his account.
The department said it disagrees with the court decision and is considering its next steps.
While the court has ruled the blocking is unconstitutional, it said the ability to mute a person was not - and so the safe space nurtured by the president and his social media team will remain mostly intact.
She said Trump could "mute" users, meaning he would not see their tweets while they could still respond to his, without violating their free speech rights.
"Governmental officials and agencies, big and small, at all levels of government, are using social media to speak to the public and allow the public to speak to them and each other", David Greene, civil liberties director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement.
Houston Astros honor school shooting victims
He called for a series of high-level policy meetings after a high school near Houston became the latest to have a mass shooting. Sentiments like those could give Abbott political cover if his roundtable discussions don't lead to major changes.
The virtual space provided by Twitter for replying to the President's Tweets is a "designated public forum" - a space controlled (even if not owned) by the government that is generally open for public speech to fellow members of the public, and in which the First Amendment forbids viewpoint discrimination.
In July 2017, Trump was sued by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY, along with seven individual Twitter users.
US President Donald Trump has no right to block his Twitter followers who criticize him on the social network.
Trump has garnered over 52.2 million followers posting about everything from the National Football League to North Korea to his disdain for Robert Mueller probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Muted users could still appear for others to see under Trump's tweets, however. Today's ruling determined that @realDonaldTrump is a de facto government Twitter account, making it subject to scrutiny under the First Amendment. The plaintiffs argued that Trump's twitter feed amounted to a virtual town hall, and that blocking users from seeing his tweets violated their First Amendment rights. To do so, District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said, would be a violation of the right to free speech.
All Pres. Trump's many tweets come from his trusty iPhone, and he's not shy about blocking people who use this social network platform to respond to his comments.
The judge did not issue an order against Trump, and the plaintiffs did not ask for one.
The institute represented seven individuals who had been blocked by account.