New federal court ruling indicates Trump cannot block people on social media (Details)

Josh Haner/The New York Times

This week a federal judge weighed in on a topic that has been on a lot of people’s minds since Trump took office. The question being is whether one’s First Amendment right is violated when Trump blocks them on Twitter. The judge ruled that it is a violation of the First Amendment when politicians block people on social media because of their views.

The plaintiff in the case was Brian Davison who sued the chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Phyllis J. Randall. Davison sued Randall after she blocked him from a Facebook page that she uses to keep in touch with her constituents.

On one of her posts, Randall wrote, “I really want to hear from ANY Loudoun citizen on ANY issues, request, criticism, compliment, or just your thoughts.”



Davidson decided to comment accusing members of official corruption. But he was later blocked and Randall deleted the post. Davidson sued her for violation of free speech.

District Court Judge James Cacheris ruled that Randall violated Davison’s First Amendment rights.



Cacheris explained:

Defendant’s offense at Plaintiff’s views was therefore an illegitimate basis for her actions—particularly given that Plaintiff earned Defendant’s ire by criticizing the County government. Indeed, the suppression of critical commentary regarding elected officials is the quintessential form of viewpoint discrimination against which the First Amendment guards. By prohibiting Plaintiff from participating in her online forum because she took offense at his claim that her colleagues in the County government had acted unethically, Defendant committed a cardinal sin under the First Amendment.

A similar suit has been filed against Trump by The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on behalf of users that Trump blocked on Twitter. As we know, Trump likes to use his personal Twitter handle to talk about official policy rather than using his official @POTUS account.

 

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