A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump cannot selectively block followers of his Twitter with whom he disagrees.
The ruling affirmed a decision by a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, who held that the “interactive space” in the account is a public forum and that the exclusion from that space was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
The appeals court held that the president’s decision to use what they called, “a relatively new type of social media platform to conduct official business and interact with the public,” prevented him, or any public official who so chooses, from blocking individuals based on their viewpoints. The government argued that although the president’s Twitter is not altogether independent of the presidency, his blocking was his private right. The court acknowledged that the president’s account was private before his being elected, and will revert to a private account after his term in office, but the case before it concerns what the account is now.
The president’s Twitter posts, the court noted, have been described by former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “official statements by the President of the United States,” and the president’s tweets are official records, according to the National Archives.
The nature of the president’s account as official is overwhelming, the court found. “Once it is established that the President is a government actor with respect to his use of the Account, viewpoint discrimination violates the First Amendment.”
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