President Trump’s Twitter habits are under fire from a group of First Amendment lawyers claiming that it’s unconstitutional for him to block anyone from seeing his tweets, because his Twitter space is a “public forum”.
To that end, the Knight First Amendment Institute, a non-profit under the Knight Foundation and Columbia University, sent Trump a letter on Tuesday asking him to unblock Twitter users who have been restricted from accessing @realDonaldTrump after they wrote nasty posts about the president.
According to the lawyers, “(Trump’s) Twitter account operates as a ‘designated public forum’ for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional.”
And they are prepared to take the President to court if he doesn’t unblock them, said spokesman Alex Abdo, one of the lawyers representing the blocked users.
When Twitter user Joseph M. Papp tweeted, “Greetings from Pittsburgh, Sir” and “Why didn’t you attend your #PittsburghNotParis rally in DC, Sir? #fakeleader,” he was blocked from the President’s account.
“The president is President of the United States,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday, “so they are considered official statements by the president of the United States.” That acknowledgment by the administration certainly helps to uphold the lawyer’s claims.
The letter notes that if certain users don’t have access to Trump’s Twitter account, then they are deprived of their freedom of speech, because according to the lawyers, they become “limited in their ability to participate in comment threads” regarding tweets put out by the President.
According to Abdo, “The first amendment doesn’t let you shut down obscene or hateful speech.”
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