A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump is in violation of the Constitution when he blocks users on Twitter, as he so often does.
In making her ruling, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote that “no government official—including the President—is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared.” She continued, “While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the President’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him.”
In short, Buchwald holds that the “interactive space” where users can engage with the President’s tweets should be considered a public forum and blocking people based on their political viewpoints is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
At least one celebrity critic of Trump is looking forward to interacting with POTUS once more. Chrissy Teigen tweeted a video of herself watching news coverage of the decision with the caption, “Well well well we meet again @realdonaldtrump”.
Trump infamously blocked Teigen last July after a fairly innocuous tweet in which she said, “No one likes you.”
At the time she said, “It’s been a long time coming. I have been very anti-Trump since The Apprentice, like when it first started, so it didn’t start during the presidency like everyone thinks. This goes pretty deep.” But it’s not like she was all that bothered. “I don’t even follow him [on Twitter], so I’m definitely fine being blocked,” she continued. “There’s just this part of me that’s so happy that he had to actually do that. It’s just funny.”
The case that resulted in Wednesday’s ruling was brought to court by the Knight First Amendment Rights Institute of Columbia University on behalf of seven individuals who had been blocked by the @RealDonaldTrump account. “We’re pleased with the court’s decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform,” Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director, said in a statement on their site.
“The President’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”
It’s not clear at this moment when or how users once blocked will become unblocked. Will it be en masse? One at a time? Is there a prioritized list? We shall have to wait and see.