US President Donald Trump may not “block” Twitter users from viewing his online profile due to their political beliefs, a judge in New York has ruled.
District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan said that blocking access to his @realDonaldTrump account would be a violation of the right to free speech.
The lawsuit against Mr Trump and other White House officials stems from his decision to bar several online critics.
The White House has yet to comment on the judge’s ruling.
On Wednesday the judge agreed with their argument that the social media platform qualifies as a “designated public forum” granted to all US citizens.
“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” the judge said in her opinion.
“The answer to both questions is no.”
On the one hand, I see what the judge is saying. The president has chosen Twitter as a primary channel by which he communicates directly with the public. Blocking followers also blocks them from seeing his communications.
On the other hand, whatever the president tweets is widely shared on any of a thousand different news channels or retweeted by other people on Twitter. By the judge’s logic, public figures could also not prohibit people from attending one of their speeches without violating the citizen’s 1st Amendment rights.
This strikes me as yet another overreach by a judge.