The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that President Trump cannot block his critics from viewing the Twitter feed he regularly uses to communicate with the public, finding that the practice is discriminatory.
The ruling upholds a lower court ruling that that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked individual users critical of the president or his policies.
“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,” wrote Judge Barrington D. Parker in Tuesday’s unanimous decision.
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University had brought forward the lawsuit on behalf of seven people who had been blocked by the president on Twitter.
The judges wrote in the opinion that Trump’s Twitter account shows “all the trappings of an official, state‐run account,” and that the president and his aides have described his tweets as “official statements.”
And they noted that the National Archives, “the agency of government responsible for maintaining the government’s records, has concluded that the President’s tweets are official records.”
The judges noted that the individuals were blocked after they posted tweets critical of the president.
“We conclude that the evidence of the official nature of the Account is overwhelming,” the opinion reads. “We also conclude that once the President has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those whose views he disagrees with.”