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Court: Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 7/09/19, 12:38 pm

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday ruled that President Donald Trump cannot ban critics from accessing his personal Twitter account, upholding a lower court ruling that concluded a public official cannot use a social media account for “all manner of official purposes” while excluding people who disagree from an otherwise open online dialogue.

“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker on behalf of a three-judge panel. “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 U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued on behalf of seven people the president blocked from his Twitter account for criticizing his policies. The oral arguments questioned whether Trump acted in his official capacity on his personal Twitter account, which has more than 60 million followers.


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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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  •  austinbeartux's picture
    austinbeartux
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 12:55 pm

    So the judges concluded that "a public official cannot use a social media account for “all manner of official purposes” while excluding people who disagree from an otherwise open online dialogue."   Do you really think our beloved legislators (who have a hard time keeping laws up-to-date relative to technology) actually created a law that says that?  Or, do you think it's more likely that the NY judges gave their subjective and partisan opinion because they dislike Trump?

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 06:51 pm

    Legislators don't need to make a law on this one. We already have a law--it's called the First Amendment. The point is that when one person uses a social media account for all kinds of public announcements and business, then the account is open for others to reply. You can't single out for censorship those who disagree.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 02:33 pm

    I don’t use Twitter so I’m not familiar with how it works. 

    However, my impression is that users expect their postings to be public and that others can respond.  If that’s the case, President Trump had either better expect some responses he doesn’t like, or should quit tweeting. 

    I think President Franklin Roosevelt had a good way of communicating with the public, with his radio broadcast “Fireside Chats.” It was more or less one-way communication, although I’m sure his critics could make their responses with their own broadcasts or in print. Of course, that was in a time when critics were probably a bit less “in your face,” and no doubt somewhat more respectful of the Office. 

    I certainly am not a fan of the overall coarsening of our culture. Even some elected national figures don’t hesitate to publically spew vulgarities.  How can they not see how that lessens our respect for them?

  •  CaptTee's picture
    CaptTee
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 04:22 pm

    "I don’t use Twitter so I’m not familiar with how it works." That should have stopped you from commenting.

    Twitter reserves the right to block or cancel accounts of people who are abusive and do not follow their rules. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for any user to be able to block abusive people, regarless of who they work for.

    If Twitter where like FDR's fireside chats, anyone could pick up a mircrophone and we'd all have to listen to their comments, without any FCC language censorship, or turn the radio off. You are blessed not to have a Twitter account.

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 06:47 pm

    Congratulations, OldMike! You got this one right!

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 06:57 pm

    Captain Tee, The World article didn't quote the judge saying anything about "abuse." He said, "...people who disagree." If you want to start talking about abusive language, then the president wins that one hands down. He uses Twitter to regulary abuse people with insults and name-calling. He is anything but respectful and polite. By the way, there was debate awhile back--it seems Twitter applies its rules irregularly. Because the president is the president, their rules don't apply to him.

  •  kemper's picture
    kemper
    Posted: Fri, 08/23/2019 02:39 pm

    If the Twitter account is Trump's personal account, can't he block whomever he wants. On my facebook account, I can block anybody I choose, isn't it the same?

     

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 08:47 pm

    CaptTee, I apologize.  Don’t worry, I’m not interested in opening a Twitter account.  Don’t do Facebook either. 

    Why Gramma, thank you!  But don’t I get ALL of them right?  ;-)

     

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 07/09/2019 09:45 pm

    ...chuckle...chuckle

  • Leeper
    Posted: Wed, 07/10/2019 08:58 am

    Unfortunately  freedom of the press is now interrupted  as freedom to lie. I don't  use Twitter either but am aware of their liberal bias and  thier censorship  of conservative  posts. Its seems President  Trump  should be able to do the same. Mark Levin has a new book out titled " Unfreedom of the Press. A great review of the 1st amendment and the sad  situation we are in today.

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