Trump Wants To Block Twitter Critics So Badly, He's Asking A Court To Give Him Back The Power
As a longtime enthusiast of frequent (and often aggressive) tweeting, President Trump wants to block Twitter critics so badly that he's appealing a recent court ruling which prevented him from doing just that. The federal ruling, which was handed down in May, declared that blocking people from Trump's @RealDonaldTrump account violated the first amendment. But lawyers who represent both Trump and the White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino have filed paperwork to formerly reverse the order, arguing that it does no such thing.
The original suit, which was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University along with seven separate plaintiffs who'd personally been blocked by Trump, was filed on the basis that Trump cannot block people with dissenting political views. By blocking them, they argued, he could technically prevent them from having necessary access to public and politically-related information.
According to the judge who presided over the case, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, Trump's account is definitely a "public forum." Therefore, individuals cannot be prevented from viewing it. In her opinion, as relayed by the New York Daily News, Buchwald added that this case required her to consider whether a public official was within his own first amendment rights by blocking someone on Twitter, and whether that public official's rights should change if he is the President.
"The answer to both of those questions," Buchwald wrote, "is no."
Although the ruling was handed down on May 23, Trump reportedly still had several Twitter users blocked on his account during the time between that ruling and his lawyers' rebuttal filing, according to CNN.
According to CNN, Trump had unblocked the seven plaintiffs who originally sued him, but there were still several notable celebrities, politicians, and influencers who remain blocked by Trump. This list includes the longtime reigning twitterverse queen, Chrissy Teigen.
When the original ruling declared Trump's blocking of Twitter users was unconstitutional, Teigen tweeted simply to Trump, "Well well well we meet again." Trump did not reply to Teigen, as she was still blocked by him.
Her response to his appeal was far more pointed, and reflected more about her opinion of the president. Essentially, she concluded that he was a "brat."
Trump's appeal is officially being filed underneath the umbrella of the Justice Department, according to NPR. Previously, Politico notes that the Justice Department made the argument that a ruling such as this one, which would prevent Trump from exercising his will on Twitter, "would send the First Amendment deep into uncharted waters."
In contrast, The Knight Institute argued that "The First Amendment prohibits government officials from suppressing speech on the basis of viewpoint ... The court's application of that principle here should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media."
Of course, there's no real precedent for this. Establishing how the president should interact with the beast that is the social media universe is a particularly important legal distinction to make. For now, though, the people who filed the brief against Trump are still confident that their ruling will stand strong. According to the New York Daily News, Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, the judicial affairs editor for Daily Kos and one of the seven plaintiffs who filed the original suit, said simply, "We're still right, and they're still wrong."
Should the ruling be upheld, it might radically change how Trump will interact with his follower base. In fact, he has been notoriously involved with Twitter since he declared his presidential run. He's used it to dispel important matters of national security, and even to fire members of the Trump administration in the past.