U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled Wednesday that the President may not block his critics on Twitter, dozens of whom have been barred from speaking in the virtual debate halls that unfold below his Twitter missives.
— Knight 1st Amendment (@knightcolumbia) May 23, 2018
“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” Buchwald’s decision began.
“The answer to both questions is no.”
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed suit last year on behalf of several Twitter users who’d been blocked by the President.
TPM profiled one blocked account, belonging to the veterans’ group VoteVets, in June of last year.
“He is a thin-skinned charlatan,” said Will Fischer, an Iraq War veteran and director of government relations for the group, the day @VoteVets was blocked by @realDonaldTrump. “Donald Trump seeks to quell dissent and to surround himself only with sycophants who are going to shower him in praise and adoration.”
VoteVets wasn’t a plaintiff in the Knight Institute’s suit, but they celebrated the decision… on Twitter.
Will everyone following us please tweet at @realdonaldtrump to follow the Constitution and unblock us, and the 550,000 vets, military families and civilian supporters we represent? #BlockedbyTrump https://t.co/x46jhF0s9q
— VoteVets (@votevets) May 23, 2018
“The First Amendment prohibits government officials from suppressing speech on the basis of viewpoint,” Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, said in a statement responding to the ruling. “The court’s application of that principle here should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media.”
Read Buchwald’s decision below: