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Appellate court will hear arguments in case of Trump blocking Twitter users

Posted at 3:41 AM, Mar 26, 2019

A panel of judges in New York will hear arguments on Tuesday after the Trump administration appealed a ruling that the President's blocking users on Twitter violates the First Amendment.

Last year, a New York federal judge ruled that the President is violating the Constitution when he blocks Twitter users, and the Trump administration appealed the decision.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling that "no government official -- including the President -- is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared."

"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, that such space is a designated public forum, and that the blocking of the plaintiffs based on their political speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment," Buchwald wrote.

The suit was filed last year by the Knight First Amendment Institute, along with seven individuals who have been blocked by the President on Twitter. The suit argues that the President's Twitter account is a public forum and he cannot block the users on the platform because he disagrees with their views.

The Justice Department appealed the decision and is arguing that the First Amendment does not constrain Trump from blocking users from his personal account.

"The @realDonaldTrump account is a private account that belongs to Donald Trump personally, not to the United States," the department argued in a legal brief, adding that "his control over that account is completely independent of his public office."

The document says that "when Donald Trump decides not to interact with other Twitter users through the @realDonaldTrump account by blocking them, he exercises a power enjoyed by all Twitter users."