President Donald Trump's Twitter habit was dealt a blow on Wednesday when a federal judge ruled that blocking people on Twitter violated their First Amendment right to free speech.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in New York sided with the Knight First Amendment Institute, which sued Trump
along with seven Twitter users who complained that their rights had been violated. The court ruled that blocking people on a "public forum" such as Twitter was unconstitutional, because Twitter is an official communication channel from the White House.
Federal judge bans Trump from blocking his critics on Twitter https://t.co/bfUp7eBW70 https://t.co/Oxt6YGaRwW— The Hill (@The Hill)1527125469.0
"We hold that portions of the @realDonaldTrump account ― the 'interactive space' where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the President's tweets ― are properly analyzed under the 'public forum' doctrines set forth by the Supreme Court," Buchwald said in her ruling. "The @realDonaldTrump account has been used in the course of the appointment of officers (including cabinet secretaries), the removal of officers, and the conduct of foreign policy."
I sued the President, and I won. https://t.co/hE3rWcxIAY— Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter-Poza (they/she) (@Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter-Poza (they/she))1527094787.0
Buchwald also told the court that instead of blocking, Trump could simply "mute" tweets he didn't want to see, so that he still appeared in those people's Twitter feeds. "Muting equally vindicates the President's right to ignore certain speakers and to selectively amplify the voices of certain others but ― unlike blocking ― does so without restricting the right of the ignored to speak," Buchwald ruled.
Buchwald didn't directly order Trump and White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino to unblock the individuals, however, she did say that doing so would be "minimally" intrusive into White House business. "We must assume that the President and Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional," Buchwald said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks were also named as defendants in the suit, however they were excused by the judge.
Some of the seven individuals who sued the president shared their success on Twitter, letting the world know that they "sued the president and won. So much winning"
We sued the President and won. So much winning. https://t.co/QaThOtjG3p— Nick Jack Pappas (@Nick Jack Pappas)1527096178.0
BREAKING: President Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter is unconstitutional, court rules. To everyone who said… https://t.co/fX3RxRlqwa— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@Holly Figueroa O'Reilly)1527094721.0
"Unblock me now Mr. Trump, you are not above the law."
This is the tweet that made Trump block me. Now the United States District Court rules that the President’s actions… https://t.co/OzR00fomNM— Eugene Gu, MD (@Eugene Gu, MD)1527098099.0
Can we get some footage of his tiny fingers unblocking us? https://t.co/dNbKBO1kxR— Brandon Neely (@Brandon Neely)1527098245.0