Twitter Users Sue Trump for Blocking Them
- Author: Adam Floyd Jul 13, 2017,
Jul 13, 2017, 0:39
"The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they've disagreed with the president", Knight Institute executive director Jameel Jaffer said in a release about the lawsuit.
In the complaint, the foundation argued that the president's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, was "a public forum under the First Amendment" because of how Mr Trump and his staff used the account to communicate.
Trump, along with Spicer and Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
In the suit, it states that Trump's Twitter account is an important information and news source about the government. In June the White House conceded that Trump's tweets are official statements.
Holly Figueroa, a national political organizer and songwriter, was cut off on May 28 after posting an image of the pope looking incredulously at Trump, along with the statement: "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you", the lawsuit said.More news: Novak Djokovic Defeats Gael Monfils to Clinch Eastbourne Tennis Title
The Knight First Amendment Institute, a nonprofit at Columbia University, is asking that Trump's blocking of the plaintiffs be declared unconstitutional; that the plaintiffs' access to the president's tweets be restored and that they not be blocked in the future because of their viewpoints; and that their legal fees be paid.
That the lawsuit centers on Trump's personal Twitter account and not the official presidential account, @POTUS, might make a difference, according to a legal expert on public forum laws. "Having opened this forum to all comers, the President can't exclude people from it merely because he dislikes what they're saying". The group said the White House did not respond.
Trump is using Twitter as "a key channel for official communication", the action says.
"Usually public forums are actually owned by the government, but Trump's (and by extension the government's) control of his Twitter account should overcome the technical difference between private and government ownership", Magarian said.
They allege their First Amendment right to free speech is being infringed upon because they can no longer view and reply to Trump's tweets. The petitioners are requesting an injunction that Trump should unblock them and cease blocking those who are only basing their opinions. A Twitter spokesperson said the company didn't have anything to say about the lawsuit. The Knight First Amendment Institute also explains that " the government can not exclude people simply due to their opinions ". The proactive disclosure of collusion through the social media website frustrated journalists who had been investigating the issue for more than a year.