Is It Unconstitutional for Trump to Block Twitter Users?

by Sapna Rampersaud

Lawyers from Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sent a letter last week arguing that President Trump’s blocking users on Twitter runs afoul of the First Amendment.

The president’s account recently blocked the two Twitter users being represented after they posted critical tweets in response to a couple of the president’s tweets.

Their lawyer’s argument is that the president’s blocking these users from seeing or responding to his tweets on Twitter impinges on their free-speech rights under the First Amendment; the idea is that Trump, in his capacity as a state actor, has violated the Constitution by blocking access to information in what should be considered a public forum.

Yet they fail to consider that (1) these citizens have other means of accessing his tweets, and (2) Trump’s account (@real DonaldTrump) is hosted by a private company, which is free to set its own policies for how its users interact.

To the first point, the two people that were blocked can still access these tweets not only from the thousands of retweets they receive from countless other accounts or news publications, but by simply creating another account from which to follow Trump.

Secondly, Trump’s Twitter account is not federally owned or operated and therefore should not be treated as a government-created forum obliged to provide access to all comers.

It should be obvious that, though blocking people on Twitter may seem beneath the president’s office or pointless considering the thousands of other tweets that are critical of him from accounts he didn’t bother to block, it isn’t unconstitutional. Whether a judge might hold otherwise in the current climate is less clear.

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