President Donald Trump can’t block users from his Twitter feed over their political views, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that blocking users from POTUS’ Twitter account is a violation of the First Amendment.
“While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the President’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him,” Buchwald wrote.
The Department of Justice, which represents the president in the case, told TheWrap in a statement: “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”
The ruling came in response to a June lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several Twitter users.
Plaintiffs in the case argued that Trump’s Twitter feed is essentially a public forum and that blocking critics from it is a violation of their First Amendment.
“My co-plaintiffs and I just won our federal lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump for blocking us on Twitter,” Eugene Gu, tweeted in reaction to the ruling. “No government official is above the law–not even the President of the United States.”
My co-plaintiffs and I just won our federal lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump for blocking us on Twitter. No government official is above the law—not even the President of the United States.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) May 23, 2018
Others suggested the president had not unblocked them following the ruling.
I’m still blocked by President BoneSpurs.
This is against the constitution of the United States of America.
This is outrageous and needs to be rectified immediately.
— andy lassner (@andylassner) May 23, 2018
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) May 23, 2018
Some pointed out that the ruling didn’t address muting on Twitter, which allows users to remove an account’s Tweets from their timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account.
There’s really no need to block people. Muting is way better. You have no idea how many of you I’ve muted.
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) May 23, 2018
Two immediate takeaways from Judge Buchwald's ruling against Trump blocking people on Twitter:
1. It doesn't extend to muting.
2. It appears to apply to every government official who uses Twitter to discuss their office, not just Trump.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) May 23, 2018
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 23, 2018