Journalist blocked on Twitter by Trump talks about winning case against president

The judge concluded that U.S. President Donald Trump

A federal judge in NY ruled Wednesday that President Trump may not block users from following his Twitter account because the social media platform is a "public forum" protected by the First Amendment. "As long as they remain blocked, 'the Individual Plaintiffs can not view the President's tweets; directly reply to these tweets; or use the @realDonaldTrump webpage to view the comment threads associated with the President's tweets while they are logged in to their verified accounts, '" she wrote, quoting from a court document.

U.S. District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove wrote that public officials "can choose whom to listen to on those platforms without offending the First Amendment". 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. "Hope Hicks is also dismissed as a defendant, in light of her resignation as White House Communications Director". They claimed the president uses Twitter as a public forum to share official information in his capacity as president and therefore was violating their right to petition the government by blocking them.

The Department of Justice argued a year ago that users who are not logged into their Twitter accounts can still see the president's tweets online because they are public.

The judge did not issue an order against Trump, and the plaintiffs did not ask for one.

She wrote that "because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the President [and his social media director] will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional".

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in an emailed statement. Blocking a user prevents them from interacting with an account altogether. In last year's ruling about Facebook blocking, the judge held that public officials could do a certain amount of content moderation, provided that it was done in a content-neutral manner.

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While this lawsuit targets Trump's behavior, Buchwald's ruling extends to all public officials - and could likely spark a wave of similar litigation against other block-happy government employees.

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.

The blocked: Along with Cohen, several other Twitter users have accused Trump of blocking them on Twitter. The group argued that failing to recognize Trump's Twitter feed as a public forum would "threaten critical First Amendment values".

Twitter is a social media platform with more than 300 million active users worldwide, including some 70 million in the United States.

Per the court decision, Trump is legally obligated to immediately unblock anyone that he's blocked, even on his personal account, as soon as possible.

The government did not dispute that Mr. Trump blocked people because of those kinds of antagonistic tweets. And that, ruled Naomi Buchwald, a New York Federal judge, raises a constitutional problem.

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