Washington -A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that US President Donald Trump violated the US constitution by blocking Twitter users who disagree with him, a case closely watched for implications for online free speech.
The federal Judge, Naomi Reice Buchwald said the blocking of Trump critics prevented them from seeing and interacting with the president’s tweets and this violated the free speech rights of those users guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment.
The New York judge in a 75-page opinion said the users “were indisputably blocked as a result of viewpoint discrimination” and it was “impermissible under the First Amendment”.
The judges ruling comes after a lawsuit was filed by a group of Twitter users and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
The lawsuit said because president Trump uses Twitter to make numerous policy announcements, his Twitter account is “a designated public forum” which cannot exclude people because they political views differ.
The judge did acknowledge although the president has certain free speech rights, he cannot violate the rights of other Twitter users.
She said in her opinion, “While we must recognise, 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 criticised him.”
Buchwald however didn’t accept the request for an injunction against Trump and his social media aide, Dan Scavino, who was also named in the complaint, she said she expected the White House to abide by her “declaratory” ruling.
She added,”Because no government official is above the law and 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 Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional.”
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