President Trump’s love of Twitter has long been a source of controversy, especially as he has habit of blocking people. Now, a federal judge has ruled that this is a violation of people’s First Amendment rights. Additionally, the court said that he most unblock all previously blocked users.
The situation began back in June last year, when free-speech group the Knight First Amendment Institute at New York's Columbia University sent a letter to Trump demanding he unblocks accounts. It claimed those who had been blocked are having their free speech protections violated.
Trump’s administration failed to respond, leading to the group filing a lawsuit on behalf of seven blocked Twitter users in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A big part of the lawsuit rested on whether Twitter qualified as a public forum. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that it does, meaning that the President blocking users is unconstitutional in that it violates their right to free speech.
"This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, 'block' a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States," wrote the judge. "The answer to both questions is no."
Trump’s social media manager, Daniel Scavino, is also implicated in this lawsuit, as were Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both of whom were dismissed as defendants.
Trump argued that as he does much of his tweeting from a personal account, the “public forum” designation doesn’t apply.
Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec said, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”
No injunction has been issued forcing Trump and Scavino to unblock users. It appears that many of them are still blocked.