Blocked Twitter Users Sue Trump And WH Aides Over Access To ‘Public Forum’

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Several Twitter users blocked by President Donald Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account on the website filed suit against him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that they had been shut out of an essential space for public debate.

President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the President,” the suit, filed against Trump, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and White House social media director Dan Scavino, read.

“In an effort to suppress dissent in this forum, Defendants have excluded—‘blocked’—Twitter users who have criticized the President or his policies. This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it.”

The Knight Institute for the First Amendment at Columbia University and seven Twitter users whose accounts Trump has blocked filed the lawsuit. (Their accounts are: @rpbp, @familyunequal, @AynRandPaulRyan, @eugenegu, @BrandonTXNeely, @joepabike and @Pappiness.)

Accounts blocked by @realDonaldTrump cannot read the President’s tweets if they are logged onto the platform.

Nor can they comment on Trump’s tweets while logged on, missing out on a chance to compete for what has quickly become prized real estate for political messaging, whether to mock the President or present a counter-narrative to his public dispatches.

White House officials have repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets represent official statements from the President. Though Trump also has access to an official account — @POTUS, which was created during the Obama administration — he frequently publishes from his @realDonaldTrump account, and the dispatches posted there often appear to be more authentically his own work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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