U.S. court bars Donald Trump from blocking users on Twitter

Trump-Twitter-Lawsuit

The White House has not returned a request for comment.

Twitter Inc. was not involved to the lawsuit and declined to comment.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", Justice Department spokeswoman Kerry Kupec said in a statement.

"This is a groundbreaking decision", said Clay Calvert, a First Amendment expert who teaches at University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said in a release that his organization was pleased.

"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end", he added.

It is also noted that "the Individual Plaintiffs can view tweets from @realDonaldTrump when using an internet browser or other application that is not logged in to Twitter, or that is logged in to a Twitter account that is not blocked by @realDonaldTrump", and that "some of the Individual Plaintiffs have established second accounts so that they can view the President's tweets". That means that those users are free to share their views with the Twitter universe at-large, but Trump won't have to see those tweets.

"When the government goes beyond merely amplifying certain speakers" voices and not engaging with others, and actively restricts "the right of an individual to speak freely [and] to advocate ideas, ' it treads into territory proscribed by the First Amendment", Buchwald wrote.

After a hearing this year, the judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics.

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"The judge pointed to a number of ways in which the Twitter account has been used for governmental purposes, and that's really the question", said Michael McConnell, who teaches First Amendment law at Stanford Law School. Judge Buchwald ruled the plaintiffs "lack standing, however, to sue Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is dismissed as a defendant".

It is not clear how many people Mr. Trump has blocked, but online tallies list some of the names: author Stephen King, anti-Trump activist Holly Figueroa O'Reilly and Daily Kos editor Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter Poza, who was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. His bio also includes the hashtag #BlockedByTrump.

Per the court decision, Trump is legally obligated to immediately unblock anyone that he's blocked, even on his personal account, as soon as possible.

The Department of Justice has characterized Trump's tweets as public statements.

Caplan, who agreed with Buchwald's ruling, said government officials can't choose to listen exclusively to their supporters. "I'm just saying I don't like [Trump], and I don't like his decisions, and I think he's an idiot".

"We hold that portions of the @realDonaldTrump account - the "interactive space" where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the president's tweets - are properly analyzed under the "public forum" doctrines set forth by the Supreme Court", Buchwald ruled.

Duke University constitutional law professor Stuart Benjamin said he disagreed with Buchwald's finding that parts of Trump and other officials' Twitter accounts were public forums.

But she stopped short of ordering Trump and his social media director, Dan Scavino, to unblock people.

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