President Trump cannot lawfully block Twitter users for expressing political beliefs he disagrees with, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled in favor of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which alleged on behalf of seven blocked users that Trump’s Twitter account is a “public forum,” and, as such, blocking access to it violates the First Amendment.
“While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the President’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him,” Buchwald wrote.
“We’re pleased with the court’s decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform,” Knight Institute executive director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. “The President’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”
Government attorneys disputed the claim that Trump violated the First Amendment, pointing out that blocked users could still view the president’s tweets on other platforms. But the court held that preventing users from interacting with the tweets blocked a “real, albeit narrow, slice of speech.”