President Donald Trump, who often attacks and berates those he disagrees with via Twitter, is back in court asking that he be allowed to block anyone who dares to criticize him, arguing that his Twitter feed is his personal platform separate from his official role as head of state.
Yep, just as we always suspected, Donald can dish it out, but he sure can’t take it.
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Bloomberg reports that a Justice Department attorney suggested Trump should be allowed to block anyone he chooses on social media:
“On Tuesday, the judges aggressively questioned Jennifer Utrecht, an attorney for the Justice Department. She argued that the account was established long before Trump became president and isn’t a public forum subject to free-speech protection. She said it is more like private residences such as George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, or Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.”
But one of the judges on the panel, Barrington Parker, said blocking other users was in direct conflict with the First Amendment:
“What the blocking does, and correct me if I’m wrong, it subtracts from that discussion points of view that the president doesn’t like. Why isn’t that just a quintessential First Amendment violation?”
The president’s appeal is in response to a 2017 ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which sued Trump and White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino after they blocked users who had criticized the president and his policies. A federal judge found in 2018 that Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum and blocking users violated their constitutional right to free speech.
Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the Knight Institute, told the appellate court on Tuesday:
“If the court were to hold that this kind of blocking is beyond the reach of the First Amendment, that would have implications far beyond this particular context. It would seemingly apply to the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts as well. It would probably apply to every government website that has a space for public comment. I think you would be opening the door to manipulation and distortion of those spaces.”
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