President Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Federal Appeals Court Rules

Coverage Type: 

A federal appeals court in New York ruled President Trump’s practice of blocking some users on Twitter violates the free-speech protections of the First Amendment. The ruling stems from a 2017 lawsuit filed by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute on behalf of seven people who had been blocked by the president’s @realDonaldTrump account. In an opinion for the three-judge panel, Judge Barrington Parker of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that a public official who uses a social-media account for official purposes can’t block users because he disagrees with their posts.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” wrote Judge Parker, who was nominated to the appeals court by President George W. Bush. Judge Parker wrote that the court didn’t consider whether it was unconstitutional to block people from a private social-media account, or the role of private social-media companies in policing their platforms. The judge noted that Trump’s account, while ostensibly private, is used for conducting government business. The judge wrote that the president used the account to announce the nomination of a Federal Bureau of Investigation director, as well as to unveil his administration’s ban on transgender people in the military and other policies.

President Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Federal Appeals Court Rules Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules (NYTimes)