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Court to Trump: No Blocking Critics on Twitter

Federal appeals court upholds earlier ruling
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2019 10:40 AM CDT
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This Monday file photo shows President Trump speaking during an event about the environment in the East Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – Bad news for President Trump when it comes to his social media use: A federal appeals court has ruled he can't block his critics on Twitter. "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," reads the unanimous decision from the New York-based court, which upheld an earlier ruling from last year that Trump had appealed. The lawsuit was brought by seven people who were blocked by Trump's @realDonaldTrump account after posting comments critical of the president in 2017.

The Washington Post calls the case "a high-profile legal test" of how the courts would address the First Amendment's stance on "viewpoint discrimination." It prevents the government from blocking viewpoints it disagrees with, but the Supreme Court has yet to directly address how that applies to digital spaces and social media. Per CNN, the appeals court found that Trump "engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter's 'blocking' function to limit certain users' access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech." The White House, the Department of Justice, and Twitter haven't yet responded to the ruling, CNBC reports. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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