Trump asks Supreme Court to let him block critics on Twitter

The Trump administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that found President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter.

The lawsuit arose in 2017 after Trump’s social media account blocked seven people who had tweeted criticism of the president in comment threads linked to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle.

Lower federal courts found that Trump’s twitter account, where he often weighs in on official matters, constitutes a public forum and that blocking his detractors violated their constitutional free speech protections.

In its Thursday petition to the Supreme Court, attorneys for the Justice Department (DOJ) urged the justices to overturn a unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit against Trump.  

The DOJ argued that the appeals court had erred by finding Trump’s Twitter account to be a public forum, and failed to adequately recognize that much of Trump’s social media posts constitute private rather than governmental speech.  

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the seven blocked Twitter users, urged the justices to deny Trump’s request for an appeal.

“This case stands for a principle that is fundamental to our democracy and basically synonymous with the First Amendment: government officials can’t exclude people from public forums simply because they disagree with their political views,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director. 

“The Supreme Court should reject the White House’s petition and leave the appeals court’s careful and well-reasoned decision in place,” he said.