President Trump blocking critics from engaging with his Twitter feed violates the First Amendment, a New York federal appeals court decided Tuesday.
The decision upholds a May 2018 ruling rejecting the current administration’s argument that the president does not violate the First Amendment by blocking users on Twitter because he is a private individual on the platform. In 2017, seven users brought the case against President Trump after disapproving commentary resulted in them being blocked by his account, @realDonaldTrump.
The First Amendment forbids the U.S. government from blocking or excluding commentary it disagrees with. "No government official — including the President — is above the law," wrote Judge Naomi Buchwald in the initial ruling.
In Tuesday’s opinion, Judge Barrigton D. Parker echoed Judge Buchwald’s decision, writing, “a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes” cannot “exclude persons from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.” You can read the entire opinion here.
The president, who uses his Twitter account to regularly communicate with the public and his 61.8 million followers, had already unblocked the seven Twitter users behind the original lawsuit.
The appeals decision is only the latest case untangling the implications of elected officials interacting with constituents via social media accounts. Last month, Twitter introduced a new notice targeting offensive tweets shared by politicians, further traversing how the first Amendment applies to officials' account in a social media era.