Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY ruled that Twitter serves as a "designated public forum" and is protected under the plaintiffs' First Amendment, which is the aspect of U.S. Constitution that deals with free speech.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald wrote: "The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is prescribed by the First Amendment and can not be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests".
The question was an aspect of a suit brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute, which alleged that the official presidential Twitter feed amounts to a public forum, and that the government barring individuals from participating in it amounted to limiting their right to free speech. Representing a group of seven Twitter users, they sued Trump, along with Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks (both of whom were dismissed as defendants), and White House Social Media Director Daniel Scavino (who was not), claiming that "The White House is transforming a public forum into an echo chamber".
"The judge is taking a social media account launched well before Donald Trump was a public official and declaring it to be a public forum".
The lawsuit filed a year ago also named White House social media director Daniel Scavino among the defendants. Established in May 2016 by Columbia and the Knight Foundation with an endowment of $60 million, the institute is a prominent example of University President Lee Bollinger's personal commitment to free speech.
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Blocking the complainants from this public space "based on their political speech constitutes discrimination that violates the First Amendment", wrote the judge. But he has remained unfettered and used Twitter to promote his agenda, announce policy and attack critics, especially the media, and the investigation into possible Russian connections with his campaign.
The court's motives say that blocking users on the page violates the first amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and the right to protest.
The Justice Department and Twitter are yet to comment on the ruling. Instead, it's a violation because being blocked prevents them from responding to Trump. She rejected the president's defense that the First Amendment didn't apply, and "the President's personal First Amendment interests supersede those of the plaintiffs", the Knight First Amendment Institute and others.
Genevieve Lakier, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who helped write a friend-of-the-court brief filed by First Amendment scholars, welcomed Wednesday's decision. "If that's the case, the government doesn't get to pick and choose who is allowed in".
All Pres. Trump's many tweets come from his trusty iPhone, and he's not shy about blocking people who use this social network platform to respond to his comments. Trump had argued that a court doesn't have the power to issue a direct order to a sitting president. Because Mr. Trump and Mr. Scavino also retain control over the account, she said, it's a government space as well.