Apparently, when you're a president who uses Twitter as your primary means of communication with your country, blocking critics on the platform becomes a problem that only First Amendment intervention can solve. At least, that's what the U.S. has learned, now that President Donald Trump had to unblock Twitter accounts he blocked for having criticized him. Now, all of those recently unblocked Trump critics are celebrating — and also striking back.
All the way back in May, a federal judge found Trump's habit of blocking critics to be unconstitutional, the Huffington Post reported. Trump's Twitter feed, the judge said, was a public space that “has been used in the course of the appointment of officers (including cabinet secretaries), the removal of officers and the conduct of foreign policy,” according to the Huffington Post. Therefore, he could not legally block certain Americans from accessing it just because of things that they had said.
Essentially, the judge agreed with Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, which had filed the suit on behalf of seven people whose accounts had been blocked. It was a First Amendment issue, and Trump had been violating these people's First Amendment rights. According to Reuters, the Department of Justice appealed the court's decision in June — but in the meantime, the Knight Institute wrote that it had requested that an additional 41 blocked users be unblocked.
The president had previously unblocked the original seven plaintiffs in the Knight Institute's case, the Huffington Post wrote. Now, however, most of the additional 41 are back — and ready to take Trump on at his own game, again.
"Now that we are officially unblocked by
@realDonaldTrump, meaning his administration has recognized that blocking limits our constitutional rights," the Party of Reason and Progress wrote on Twitter after it had been unblocked. "We intend to work twice as hard to fact-check his tweets and provide reasonable responses based on evidence. See you in the threads!"
"To my glorious followers: I was unblocked by
@realDonaldTrump today," author Jeffrey Guterman tweeted on Tuesday. "Please don't expect me to tweet anything amazing at him, for a while at least. I need to get back in my old groove. In the meantime, I will be replying to his tweets with something."
And then just the following morning, Guterman did in fact tweet at Trump, saying that he had woken up having forgotten his unblocking.
"Now that I have recalled it, I am in a very good mood," he wrote on Wednesday morning.
The problem isn't fully solved, however. Also on Wednesday morning, the Knight Institute tweeted, saying it had heard reports that not all individuals who Trump had allegedly blocked on the basis of their viewpoints had been unblocked. They pledged to continue their work until all of those people got their rightful access to the head of state's Twitter feed.
One unblocked Twitter user, comedy writer Bess Kalb, shared a vision of the White House on Tuesday night that will likely stick with everyone who's followed the story even a little bit:
Thank you to the Knight Foundation for legally forcing
@realDonaldTrump to take out his sticky little phone, scrunch his nose, open Twitter, search my name, shout “Do I seriously have to fucking do this,” be told yes by Dan Scavino, take a deep breath, and click “Unblock.”