A group of Twitter users were blocked by President Donald Trump and filed a lawsuit against the president and other top White House aides
The reasoning behind the lawsuit is that the President’s accounts represent a public forum that he, as a government official can’t obstruct people from.
The users who got blocked are represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. They have raised issues about how the Constitution applies to the social media era. Moreover, they state that Mr. Trump simply can’t ban people from being active on his account, neither for expressing their personal opinions that he does not agree with.
“The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,” the lawsuit said.
Donald Trump is violating the users’ First Amendment right by blocking them from reading and interacting with his tweets for reasons that don’t have a strong foundation, such as not liking what people comment, the lawsuit argued.
More than that, they included arguments that put accent on the fact that Donald Trump was imposing a restriction that was unconstitutional on the plaintiffs’ ability to be part of a designated public forum, and access statements that the government had made available to the public for “redress of grievances”.
The Knight First Amendment Institute, directed by Jameel Jaffer, decided to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff even though its Twitter account had not been blocked. Moreover, it brought into discution the First Amendment right to hear from people who had been blocked and not allowed to participate in the “forum” of message chains that have as a base the President’s postings.
There appeared people who supported the idea and expressed skepticism, saying that Mr. Trump’s account was personal, not official; therefore, he had the same right as any other user to block people that he considered to bother.
The Knight First Amendment Institute addressed such critiques in a blog posting and noted that the administration considers his Twitter account to be an official channel.