Trump's Blocked Twitter Users File First Amendment Lawsuit

by Antonio Miles July 13, 2017, 0:41
Trump's Blocked Twitter Users File First Amendment Lawsuit

Seven twitter users blocked from seeing tweets from President Trump's personal Twitter account are suing him in federal court, arguing that he violated their First Amendment rights by doing so.

"Other Twitter users, like Plaintiff Knight First Amendment Institute, that follow the @realDonaldTrump account... are now deprived of their right to read the speech of the dissenters who have been blocked", the lawsuit says.

Jameel Jaffer, the Knight First Amendment Institute's director, said that dozens of people had reached out to the group after they were blocked by Trump's eight-year-old account @realDonaldTrump, which has over 30 million followers.

Sean Spicer, as well as social media director Daniel Scavino, are also involved in the lawsuit.

When contacted, Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit. Twitter is now a primary means of public communication, which is used by everyone including the president of the United States.

The blocked users seek a declaration that the blocking of users is deemed unconstitutional, and seeks an injunction to require the President to unblock users.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is a New York City-based 501 (c)(3) organization "that works to defend and strengthen the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education", according to the complaint.

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Since Twitter users who have been blocked can not read or respond to Trump's tweets, the suit argues, blocking users for their political beliefs "imposes a viewpoint-based restriction on. participation in a public forum" and violates the first amendment.

According to the lawsuit, one plaintiff, Holly Figueroa, "replied to the President in a series of tweets, including one that contained an image of Pope Francis looking incredulously at President Trump, along with the statement 'This is pretty much how the whole world sees you".

The letter sparked debate over the constitutionality of elected officials blocking constituents. The president's account, they allege, represents a public forum and is open to participation by the public.

In a lawsuit filed today, a small cluster of Twitter users is suing the president for blocking them on the platform.

"Now I have extremely limited access to the public forum where I once could be heard", Gu said.

Trump himself has described his Twitter usage as "modern day presidential", which is probably true, given it's hard to imagine Thomas Jefferson publishing a GIF of himself repeatedly punching a man with CNN's logo crudely plastered over his face. This isn't to say the government can't exclude speech that has nothing to do with the forum's goal.

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