A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s blocking of Twitter followers who hold different opinions than his is a violation of the Constitution.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in a 3-0 decision that the First Amendment bans Trump from using Twitter’s “blocking” function to limit access to his account, CNBC writes.
“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,” Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote, citing several Supreme Court decisions.
President Trump is known to be a prolific Twitter user, often expressing his opinions and pushing his agenda on the social media platform. But his frequent use of Twitter’s blocking function seems to have been perceived as discriminatory by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University as well as seven Twitter users who have been blocked by the President.
“The decision will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy,” Jameel Jaffer, the Knight institute’s executive director, said in a statement.
While the Justice Department opposes the decision, saying it was “fundamentally misconceived,” Parker has pointed out that Trump’s account bears “all the trappings of an official, state-run account” and is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.”
Parker and the other judges wrote in their ruling 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 Hill reports.
Their opinion further says that the evidence provided in favor of the blocked users was “overwhelming.”
“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,” they add.