Judge Savages Trump Admin’s Claim That POTUS Twitter Account Is Private

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July 9, 2019 2:43 p.m.
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It’s official: President Trump can no longer block you on Twitter if he doesn’t like your mean tweets.

In the appeals court ruling on Tuesday, Judge Barrington Parker tore apart the Trump administration’s claim that Trump operates a private social media account.

“The government’s contention that the President’s use of the account during his presidency is private founders in the face of uncontested evidence in the record of substantial and pervasive government involvement with, and control over, the account,” he said.

The judge used the Trump administration current and former officials’ own remarks about Trump’s tweets to argue that the account is an official government account, preventing Trump from blocking users on a whim.

Parker cites remarks from former Press Secretary Sean Spicer — who once told reporters that Trump tweets should be considered “official statements” from the President — and other members of the administration to argue the account couldn’t possibly be private.

The opinion lists multiple instances in which Trump used Twitter to announce hirings, firings, and policy changes, and news on foreign affairs — like denuclearization talks with North Korea.

Buchwald also knocks Trump for engaging in “prohibited viewpoint discrimination” and, in subtle terms, appears to mock the administration for thinking Trump “somehow becomes a private person” when he blocks Twitter users.

“The government’s response is that the President is not acting in his official capacity when he blocks users because that function is available to all users, not only to government officials,” she wrote. “However, the fact that any Twitter user can block another account does not mean that the President somehow becomes a private person when he does so. Because the President, as we have seen, acts in an official capacity when he tweets, we conclude that he acts in the same capacity when he blocks those who disagree with him.”

The Knight First Amendment Institute, which helped bring the case on behalf of seven Twitter users whom Trump has blocked, called the ruling a win for the First Amendment.

Read the opinion below:

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