— Sāvion (@SavionWright) May 23, 2018
A federal judge in New York ruled on Wednesday that President Trump can no longer block citizens on Twitter. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by seven people, including local standup comic Nicholas Pappas, who claimed the presidential block caused “irreparable injury to their First Amendment rights.”
According to Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the president's posts are an open public forum, and preventing users with constitutional rights from seeing those posts qualifies as viewpoint discrimination, a violation of the First Amendment.
"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," Buckwald wrote in her opinion. "The answer to both questions is no."
Federal district court judge in New York says Trump cannot block Twitter users over their political views on his @realDonaldTrump account in a fascinating decision that deals with the frontiers of digital public speech. pic.twitter.com/8xPXuzZ2s9
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) May 23, 2018
The ruling suggests that no public official can block an American on Twitter. While there's no reason to believe that would extend to actors who portray politicians, we'd still be very grateful if Alec Baldwin could unblock us. (It's been three years, man...)
Some recipients of Trump's trigger-happy block finger include Chrissy Tiegan, Stephen King, Rosie O'Donnell, and professional cyclist Joe Pap. The judge did not specify whether or not the president would have to unblock them, but noted that muting would still be allowed.
The ruling also did not touch on the president's other uses of the platform, including his penchant for attacking private citizens, propagating conspiracy theories, and whatever that Robert Pattinson thing was about.
You can read the judge's order, which lets Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks off the hook, below:
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: granting in part and denying in part 34 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 42 Motion for Summary Judgment. We conclude that we have jurisdiction to entertain this dispute. Plaintiffs have established legal injuries that are traceable to the conduct of the President and Daniel Scavino and, despite defendants' suggestions to the contrary, their injuries are redressable by a favorable judicial declaration.
Plaintiffs lack standing, however, to sue Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is dismissed as a defendant. Hope Hicks is also dismissed as a defendant, in light of her resignation as White House Communications Director. Turning to the merits of plaintiffs' First Amendment claim, we hold that the speech in which they seek to engage is protected by the First Amendment and that the President and Scavino exert governmental control over certain aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account, including the interactive space of the tweets sent from the account.
That interactive space is susceptible to analysis under the Supreme Court's forum doctrines, and is properly characterized as a designated public forum. The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests.
In sum, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. The Clerk of the Court is directed to terminate the motions pending at docket entries 34 and 42. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on 5/23/2018) (ama) (Entered: 05/23/2018)