WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The ruling could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social media era.
Because Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously.
Writing for the panel, Judge Barrington D. Parker noted that the conduct of the government and its officials are subject today to a “wide-open, robust debate” that “generates a level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen.” The First Amendment prohibits an official who uses a social media account for government purposes from excluding people from an “otherwise open online dialogue” because they say things the official disagrees with, he wrote.
The Justice Department had no immediate response to the ruling.