Donald Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution when he blocks specific users on Twitter, a federal appeals court ruled, upholding a lower court’s decision.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday ruled that the First Amendment does not allow public officials who use social media in an official capacity to “exclude persons from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
President Trump — who famously uses Twitter as his social-media platform of choice — has blocked several celebs on the service, including novelist Stephen King, Rosie O’Donnell and Chrissy Teigen, as well as other individuals whose opinions he evidently doesn’t like.
“In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less,” the 2nd Circuit said in its ruling.
The decision comes a little more than a year after a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Trump’s actions blocking individual accounts on Twitter are unconstitutional, rejecting the argument from Trump’s lawyers that the president’s own First Amendment rights would be abridged if he was disallowed from blocking users. The Department of Justice had appealed the ruling. The lawsuit against Trump was filed in 2017 by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute and seven individuals who said Trump blocked them on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Trump in recent weeks has railed against supposed political bias among tech companies, including Twitter. Twitter “should be sued because what’s happening with the bias,” Trump complained in an interview with Fox Business Network. Without providing any evidence, Trump has alleged Twitter makes it hard for people to follow him on the social network, where he currently has 61.8 million followers.
Separately, Twitter last month announced a new policy under which it will display a warning in front of tweets from political figures that violate its rules but which it keeps on the service under a “public interest” standard. The new notice will require users to click through to view the posts, and Twitter will limit the distribution of such tweets.
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