US President Donald Trump violated the US Constitution by blocking people he didn’t agree with on Twitter.
A court has now ruled that the President cannot silence people if they criticise or mock him. The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the First Amendment forbids Trump from using Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit access to his account, which has 61.8 million followers.
It was ruled that he is using his account in his capacity as a public official and therefore he cannot clamp down on discussion.
Circuit Judge Barrington Parker said: ‘The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.’
Trump has used his Twitter account to promote his agenda and to attack his critics. This week he used it to lambast outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May and attack UK ambassador Kim Darroch who called the US leader ‘inept’ and ‘dysfunctional’ in leaked documents.
Trump was taken to court by seven Twitter users he had blocked as well as the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The academic institution said democracy needed to be preserved by keeping open digital spaces.
The decision on Tuesday upheld a ruling in May 2018 by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan. The Justice Department called that ruling ‘fundamentally misconceived’ and tried to argue that Trump’s Twitter account, opened in 2009, was not a public forum for discussion.
Judge Parker, however, said Trump’s account bears ‘all the trappings of an official, state-run account.’ He added that the @RealDonaldTrump account is ‘one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.’
He said Trump and his aides have characterized the president’s tweets as official statements, and that even the National Archives considers them official records.
Trump has now begun to unblock some accounts but the White House has declined to officially comment on the ruling.Photo Credit: Getty