TRUMPS’S TWITTER BLOCKS VIOLATE FIRST AMENDMENT: ADVOCACY GROUP
One twitter feature commonly exercised by many users to keep their feeds friendly is to block people who are trolls or otherwise unsavory. But should this casual feature be available to Trump as a public figure, namely President of the United States? According to the Knight First Amendment Institute, absolutely not. The Institute was founded this past year at Columbia University, dedicated to defending free speech in the digital age.
FREE-SPEECH ADVOCADY GROUP SAYS EXCLUDING PEOPLE IS “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”
After two Twitter users complained they were blocked by Trump for criticizing him on his stream, the Knight Institute sent a letter to the White House in their support. They argue that the President’s stream “operates as a ‘designated public forum’” because he is President and is protected by the First Amendment, thus making the blocking of users clearly “unconstitutional.” The institute has plans to take legal action if and when the administration does not comply with their request to halt its blocking of and users who disagree with Trump.
TRUMP’S PERSONAL TWITTER FEED NOW AN OFFICAL FEED FROM POTUS
According to the Washington Post, Sean Spicer’s statement Tuesday that Trump’s Twitter account, which has nearly 32 million followers, should be “considered official statements by the president of the United States” helps seal the Knight Institute’s argument, even if it’s Trump’s personal account. “This is not a Twitter account dedicated to personal interests and family affairs,” says institute attorney Alex Abdo. “This is for all intents and purposes the official account of the White House.”
OTHER SCHOLARS DISAGREE, TRUMP HAS NO OBLIGATIONS ON HIS FEED
But constitutional law scholar Michael W. McConnell tells the Post he doubts the threat has teeth: “The president is entitled to communicate with [whomever] he wants to whenever he wants to. No one has the right to compel someone else to communicate with them.” (Meanwhile, the debate over whether Trump should reign in his tweets has fired up again.)