Politics

Trump Sued For Blocking People On Twitter

| by Jonathan Constante
President Donald Trump.President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump is being sued by a group of seven Twitter users after he blocked them on the popular social media app.

The lawsuit was filed in New York federal court July 11. The plaintiffs argue that Trump is violating their rights to free speech by limiting their abilities to participate on a public forum, The New York Times reported.

"The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another," the lawsuit stated.

The group of blocked Twitter users are being represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech organization based at Columbia University. They argue that Trump should not prevent his constituents from expressing their opinions on him or his administration.

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The plaintiffs are also making the case that the president blocking Twitter users based on their political beliefs violates their right to petition the government for "redress of grievances."

The plaintiffs were identified as Eugene Gu, Rebecca Bulkwalter, Philip Cohen, Nick Pappas, Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, Brandon Neely, and Joseph Papp. Gu, who reportedly responded to Trump's infamous "Covfefe" tweet.

“Covfefe: the same guy who doesn't proofread his Twitter handles the nuclear button," Gu tweeted June 18, according to Courthouse News. Gu was then blocked by the president two hours later, the lawsuit alleges.

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The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would require Trump to lift restrictions on his Twitter account. White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Trump’s social media director Daniel Scavino were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

In June, Spicer said Trump's tweets were considered "official statements by the president of the United States," BBC News reported.

"President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the president," the complaint begins. "In an effort to suppress dissent in this forum, defendants have excluded -- 'blocked' -- Twitter users who have criticized the President or his policies. This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it."

Knight First Amendment Institute attorney Jameel Jaffer also issued a statement on the matter.

"The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings," Jaffer said. "The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president."

Trump recently defended his daily usage of the social media app.

"My use of social media is not Presidential -- it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!" the president tweeted July 1.

 

Sources: The New York Times, Courthouse News, BBC, Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2, 3)

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