Trump Can’t Block Critics From Twitter Account, Appeals Court Says

July 9, 2019 by Dan McCue
US President Donald Trump waits outside the West Wing of the White House for the arrival of Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar on July 9, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON –  President Donald Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking his critics’ posts from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Earlier this year during oral arguments, Justice Department attorney Jennifer Utrecht argued Trump’s Twitter account was created long before he became president and that he is acting in a private capacity when he blocks individuals.

But the 2nd Circuit didn’t buy that argument, observing that Trump uses his account for “all manner of official purposes” and that he can’t exclude people simply because they disagree with him.

The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a decision handed down last year by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who found the First Amendment requires that Trump allow the public to comment on matters of public concern.

“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate” that generates a “level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen,” U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

“This debate, as uncomfortable and as unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing,” Parker continued. “In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued Trump, Daniel Scavino, the White House director of social media, and former White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.

“The President violated the First Amendment when he used the blocking function to exclude the individual plaintiffs because of their disfavored speech,” Parker wrote.

The Manhattan-based appeals court went on to say that ‘While various ‘workarounds’ exist that would allow each of the Individual Plaintiffs to engage with the Account,” creating “burdens to speech as well as outright bans run afoul of the First Amendment.” 

In The News

Health

Voting

Law

Federal Judge Blocks Biden's Pause on New Oil, Gas Leases
Energy
Federal Judge Blocks Biden's Pause on New Oil, Gas Leases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration's suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana who ordered that plans continue for lease sales that were delayed for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska... Read More

Justice Department to Tighten Rules on Seizing Congress Data
Justice
Justice Department to Tighten Rules on Seizing Congress Data

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will tighten its rules around obtaining records from members of Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, amid revelations the department under former President Donald Trump had secretly seized records from Democrats and members of the media.  "Consistent with our commitment... Read More

Stretch of Mass Shootings Occur Nationwide Over Weekend
Crime
Stretch of Mass Shootings Occur Nationwide Over Weekend
June 14, 2021
by Reece Nations

A violent string of mass shootings killed at least 10 people and left another 50 injured in nine separate incidents across six states between Friday and Sunday this past weekend. Mass shootings are typically defined as incidents in which four or more individuals are shot with... Read More

Bipartisan Antitrust Package Seeks to Rein in Tech Giants
Congress
Bipartisan Antitrust Package Seeks to Rein in Tech Giants
June 11, 2021
by Dan McCue

House lawmakers on Friday introduced sweeping antitrust legislation aimed at restraining the power of large tech companies and preventing corporate consolidation across the economy. Introduced by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Antitrust Subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Buck, R-Colo., the five bills are directed squarely... Read More

Trump DOJ Seized Data from House Democrats in Leaks Probe
Justice
Trump DOJ Seized Data from House Democrats in Leaks Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department under former President Donald Trump seized data from the accounts of at least two members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2018 as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters,... Read More

Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Wife Pleads Guilty in D.C. Court
Crime
Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Wife Pleads Guilty in D.C. Court
June 11, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15 after pleading guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, pleaded guilty after assisting her... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top