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Judge to Tweeter-in-Chief: Blocking Is Unconstitutional

The president's account has 50 million followers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2018 3:47 PM CDT
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable on immigration policy at Morrelly Homeland Security Center, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Bethpage, NY.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – President Donald Trump violates the US Constitution's First Amendment when he blocks critics on Twitter for political speech, a judge ruled Wednesday. US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan stopped short in her written decision of ordering Trump or a subordinate to stop the practice of blocking critics from viewing his Twitter account, saying it was enough to point out that it was unconstitutional to continue to do so, the AP reports. "A declaratory judgment should be sufficient, as no government official—including the President—is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared," Buchwald wrote. The case was brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing the president.

Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said in a release, "The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end." The lawsuit was filed after Trump blocked some individuals from @realdonaldtrump, a 9-year-old Twitter account with more than 50 million followers. Justice Department lawyers had argued that it was Trump's prerogative, no different from the president deciding in a room filled with people not to listen to some. Buchwald ruled that the tweets were made in a public forum. "The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President," the judge said.

(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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