Trump Blocking Critics on Twitter Violates First Amendment, Lawyers Argue

Jun 08, 2017, 02:18

TheNewsGuru reports some Twitter users had sued the President to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY saying he is violating the First Amendment by blocking people from his feed. Two of the blocked users include Holly O'Reilly and Joseph M. Papp, who both published tweets criticizing the president.

The Institute argues that with so many USA officials using the platform - including all 50 governors, 100 senators, and every House member - if used for communication relating to democracy or running the country, Twitter should be considered a valid public forum in which the general public's rights are protected.

The letter said that Trump's blocking of users on Twitter suppressed their free-expression rights in several ways.

Trump's love of 140-charater putdowns has created a unique situation for the White House, as the president's tendency to fire off tweets about whatever unhinged thought pops into his orange-stained brain has raised ethical questions that no previous administration has had to face.

The Knight First Amendment Institute is arguing the "public forum doctrine" under the First Amendment, a longstanding, very traditional legal principle.

From one point of view, then, Donald J. Trump, on his personal @realDonaldTrump account, is a Twitter user like any other: If he doesn't want to see you yelling at him on Twitter, he has the tools available to block you.

Thirty percent say they have a favorable opinion of fired FBI Director James Comey, compared to 34 percent who do not.

LawNewz.com reached out to the White House for comment, but they have not responded.

Overing said courts would most likely deem a public forum a physical venue like a park or town hall, not a social media platform.

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The letter says that while Trump might have been offended by the post, and others critical of the president, the tweets are a protected form of free speech, and the users shouldn't be punished by the government for their content.

More than half of respondents, meanwhile, said they believe Trump's tweets hurt national security - 51 percent; the United States' standing in the world - 53 percent; and his presidency - 57 percent.

Abdo said he isn't aware of another case involving a public official blocking his or her constituents on Twitter.

Trump is the 45th President of the United States.

The Knight Institute says the private-public line was totally blurred with the president unabashedly mixed the two when he tweeted "official statements" from his private account.

This distinction could be important in the future, as courts are arguing how Trump's tweets should affect their rulings on his travel ban.

San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. declined to comment.

"There is zero good news for President Trump in this survey, just a continued slide into the chasm of doubt about his policies and his very fitness to serve", said Tim Malloy, assistant director of polling at Quinnipiac.

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