Trump ordered to stop blocking critics on Twitter

President Donald Trump

The Knight Institute and the individual Twitter users claimed in their lawsuit that by blocking users for their views, Trump was shutting them out of discussion in a public forum, violating the First Amendment.

And though the @RealDonaldTrump account was created long before the election, "the President and [his assistant Daniel] Scavino's present use of the @realDonaldTrump account weighs far more heavily in the analysis than the origin of the account as the creation of private citizen Donald Trump".

The White House directed queries to the Department of Justice, where a spokeswoman said in a statement, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

During a hearing this year, she suggested that Mr. Trump could "mute" offending accounts so he wouldn't have to hear from them, but they could still interact with others beneath his tweets - a compromise that doesn't appear to have gained traction with the president.

The case could affect other social media interactions involving public officials.

"N$3 o government official - including the President - is above the law", she wrote, "and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared".

The Knight Institute sued Trump last spring on behalf of seven Trump critics who had been blocked on Twitter, arguing that Trump's use of Twitter to announce policy and engage with the public constituted a public forum.

Buchwald stopped short of accepting the request for an injunction against Trump and his social media aide, Dan Scavino, who was also named in the complaint, saying she expected the White House to abide by her "declaratory" ruling.

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Trump has garnered over 52.2 million followers posting about everything from the National Football League to North Korea to his disdain for Robert Mueller probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"No more is needed to violate the Constitution", Naomi Reice Buchwald, a US district judge in the Southern District of NY, wrote in her opinion.

Trump is yet to make a statement regarding this news, on Twitter or otherwise.

New York Southern District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald decided that this was indeed the case. Put simply: The president is busy, and forcing him to take time to unblock people on Twitter might be a bit excessive.

The Justice Department, which argued Trump had every right to block whomever he wanted from his Twitter feed, declined to say whether it will appeal the ruling. That means that those users are free to share their views with the Twitter universe at-large, but Trump won't have to see those tweets.

The bigger impact here, however, is that this ruling applies to all public officials in the US. Blocking users on the basis of political speech is a violation of their free-speech rights, the court said. "If that's the case, the government doesn't get to pick and choose who is allowed in".

One of the users blocked by Trump, according to the letter, was Holly O'Reilly, whose @AynRandPaulRand account was blocked in May 2017 after posting a GIF of Pope Francis glancing at Trump with a troubled expression, above which she wrote, "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you".

Now the Knight Institute is representing a man in a similar case in Loudoun County, Virginia, where he was denied access to a Facebook page by a local county official.

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