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Federal judge rules that Trump can’t block his critics on Twitter
A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment rights of his critics when he blocked Twitter followers because of their political views, according to numerous reports.
Judge Naomi Buchwald made the ruling in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. She said Trump’s blocking was unconstitutional because the president restricted the seven plaintiffs who criticized him—and were ultimately blocked—on Twitter, a digital space that acts a public forum, the Washington Post reports.
The lawsuit named Trump, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. as defendants.
“Though Twitter is a private (though publicly traded) company that is not government-owned, the President and Scavino nonetheless exercise control over various aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account,” Buchwald wrote.
Buchwald argued against the defense that Trump’s own First Amendment rights “supersede” those he blocked.
“No government official—including the President—is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared,” she wrote.
The lawsuit, brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and a group of Twitter users blocked by the president, argued that Trump’s account served as a place where he made “official statements.”
The president has used his Twitter account on numerous occasions to announce government business–including that Christopher Wray was his choice to lead the FBI, the removal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and the ousting of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
You can read more about the ruling here.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).