A federal judge in New York City ruled Wednesday that the ability to view and engage with Donald Trump on his personal Twitter account is part of our constitutional First Amendment rights, and his blocking people simply because he doesn’t like their criticisms of him is a violation of those rights.
Since his election, Trump has continued to tweet from his personal Twitter account under the user name @realDonaldTrump—despite the fact that there is an official presidential Twitter account that he could use. In July, a group of seven Twitter users who were blocked by Trump after criticizing him on the platform filed a lawsuit against him, arguing that his Twitter feed is an official government account, and preventing users from viewing it is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
According to the New York Times, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed, and she wrote in her ruling that “the speech in which they seek to engage is protected by the First Amendment,” adding that both Trump and White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino “exert governmental control over certain aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
“The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the president’s personal First Amendment interests,” Buchwald wrote.
The government tried to argue that Trump uses his personal account in a personal capacity, but Buchwald concluded that he “uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the president as president.”
Isn’t it funny how the biggest bully on Twitter can dish it out but can’t take it when it gets thrown back at him?
This is the same person who uses his account to attack the media, make claims of fake news and demean journalists everywhere, all in a plot to discredit them so that, in his words, according to prominent journalist Lesley Stahl, “when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
The one person who should be an example of upholding the Constitution is the main person looking to tear it down and destroy it every chance he gets.
Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—which joined the lawsuit— served as counsel to the plaintiffs. He told the Times that it’s clear what Trump needs to do now in light of the judge’s ruling.
“The position the Trump administration is taking is that the president is entitled to block people, and that the court lacks the ability to order him to do otherwise,” Jaffer said. Although the judge had not ordered it, he said, “The right thing for the president and his social media director to do would be to log into the president’s account and unblock everyone who has been blocked on the basis of viewpoint.”
We won’t hold our breath waiting for that to happen. This administration doesn’t care one bit about the rule of law. These people think they are above it, as evidenced by the statement made by a spokeswoman from the Justice Department, which is representing the president in the case.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps,” she said.
As for the judge, Buchwald did not issue an injunction to force the president’s hand but, rather, is relying on him to do the right thing.
“Because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the president and Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional,” she wrote in her ruling.