Twitter users blocked from following President Trump went to court Tuesday, charging the action violates the U.S. Constitution.
“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. 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 lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, comes a month after the group sent a letter to the president and several aides, asking that two of their clients be unblocked. The group said the White House did not respond.
Lawyers are asking the court to call the president’s “viewpoint-based blocking” unconstitutional and to unblock the plaintiffs on Twitter and pay their legal fees.
The formal complaint states the president’s ability to block users with dissenting views “imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their participation in a designated public forum.”
“The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings,” Knight Institute executive director Jameel Jaffer told Bloomberg. “The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said previously that the president’s tweets were official statements.