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US President Trump Cannot Legally Block Followers On Twitter, Rules US Judge

25 May 2018

A federal judge in NY on Wednesday ruled that U.S. President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users because doing so violates their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"The answer to both questions is no", Buchwald said in her 75-page judgement.

"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end", said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which brought the lawsuit.

This having been said, I think the court's position is plausible, especially given that White House Social Media Director and Assistant to the President Daniel Scavino seems to be closely involved with the Twitter feed-this doesn't distinguish the religion-in-a-public-address scenario, but probably does distinguish the reelection stump speech scenario, where the elected official is generally not allowed to use government staff.

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She said Trump could "mute" users, meaning he would not see their tweets while they could still respond to his, without violating their free speech rights.

Cohen said Trump had not yet unblocked him as of late Wednesday afternoon.

The case was brought previous year by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University after seven Twitter users were blocked by Trump. The judge found that blocking people from a designated "public forum" violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Back in 2017, Refinery29 reported that Trump blocked the host and model over a series of Trump jabs she made, with the final straw being a tweet that read "Lolllllll no one likes you".

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The US Justice Department, which represented Trump in the case, said it "respectfully disagreed with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

While the ruling narrowly targets the Trump administration and is not binding on other public officials, it establishes an important legal precedent that they will be likely to follow.

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.

Twitter has always been dogged by questions about how far its users' right to speech may extend. Brief, direct, devastating. All this has converged on federal judge Naomi Reice Buchwald's decision to fail that President of United States should not block anyone in his account @realDonaldTrump (37,600 tweets and 52.2 million followers).

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US President Trump Cannot Legally Block Followers On Twitter, Rules US Judge