The president of the United States received some bad news on Tuesday, as a federal appeals court ruled President Donald Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter based on negative criticism. This affirms a lower court's previous decision that declared Trump's Twitter account a "public forum." As noted by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, because Trump uses the account to speak about his administration, it warrants constitutional free speech protection, courtesy of the First Amendment. "We do conclude that the First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees," the court opinion finds.
Back in 2017, Trump had admitted he blocked the plaintiffs of the court case because of tweets that "criticized him or his policies." After blocking them, the plaintiffs were no longer able to see Trump's tweets while logged into their Twitter accounts, nor were they able to reply or view comment threads associated with the account. According to the court, this is a violation of the First Amendment, which specifically prohibits government discrimination against free speech. In other words, telling Trump directly on Twitter how ridiculous some of his statements, decisions, or policies are would be directly within any American's constitutional rights.
In his defense, Trump said his Twitter account was "private," meaning the First Amendment shouldn't apply. The court disagreed, noting how Trump's account could have been considered private before he was elected president, but now no longer qualifies. According to the ruling, once Trump entered the Oval Office and began using his Twitter account to officially comment on government business, his account was no longer private. However, it was also noted that once Trump leaves office following his presidency, his Twitter account can then be considered private again, leaving Trump free to then block whoever he wants.
There are several prominent celebrities who've been blocked by Trump on Twitter in response to negative criticism about his presidency. One of the most notable names among them includes famed horror author Stephen King, who regularly takes to Twitter to speak about his thoughts on how Trump is doing and doesn't hold back his punches in the slightest bit. After Trump blocked King, the author then tweeted that Trump was in turn blocked from seeing It: Chapter One in theaters. More recently, King has been keeping up his Trump criticizing, just recently poking fun at the president for his airports in the "Revolutionary War" gaffe. "Just when I think I have explored the outer limits of Donald Trump's melting intellect, new vistas of stupidity open before me," the king of horror writes.
Despite this new ruling, the Justice Department is firmly standing behind the president, suggesting an appeal may soon be filed. "We are disappointed with the court's decision and are exploring possible next steps," says DOJ spokesperson Kelly Laco. She adds: "As we argued, President Trump's decision to block users from his personal Twitter account does not violate the First Amendment." We'll all soon enough see what happens next. This information comes to us from Fox News.
Donald Trump blocked me on Twitter. I am hereby blocking him from seeing IT or MR. MERCEDES. No clowns for you, Donald. Go float yourself.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 25, 2017
“Took over the airports.” Just when I think I have explored the outer limits of Donald Trump’s melting intellect, new vistas of stupidity open before me.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 5, 2019