A federal appeals court ruled today that President Donald Trump can’t block dissenters from posting replies to his Twitter account.
This upholds an earlier ruling that Trump’s account is a public forum, and therefore preventing anyone from speaking is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution
Public not private
“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” said Judge Barrington D. Parker, the presiding judge in the case, which was argued this spring before the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Before he was president, the @realDonaldTrump account was only for personal posts. But since being elected Trump frequently uses it to make official announcements. Rex Tillerson learned he’d been fired as Secretary of State by a tweet from this account, for example.
Two judges have now ruled that Trump’s comments and the replies to it amount to a public forum. But the president has blocked protesters from posting replies.
Exactly how many people have been blocked is unknown, but some well-known celebrities are on the list, including authors Stephen King and Anne Rice, and actors Rosie O’Donnell and Marina Sirtis.
A group of Twitter users and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued to force Trump to unblock them.
Whether there will be more appeals by the Trump Administration, possibly even to the Supreme Court, is unknown at this time.