Trump’s Twitter blocks violate First Amendment rights, appeals court affirms

Enlarge / The Twitter timeline of US President Donald Trump as seen on June 29, 2017, in Bydgoszcz, Poland. (credit: Getty | Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto )

It’s one thing for most of us to block Twitter users who annoy us, but it’s a violation of those users’ First Amendment rights for the president to do so, a federal appeals court confirmed.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday issued an opinion supporting an earlier federal court ruling that as long as Donald Trump is a public official, he cannot block people (which prevents them from reading his feed or responding to his comments) he disagrees with on Twitter.

The opinion (PDF) is narrow, specific, and unanimous, with all three judges concurring. “We do not consider or decide whether an elected official violates the Constitution by excluding persons from a wholly private social media account,” the judges write, “Nor do we consider whether private social media companies are bound by the First Amendment when policing their platforms.”

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