Tue, 16 Jul 2019

US Court Rules Trump Cannot Silence Critics on Twitter

Voice of America
10 Jul 2019, 04:05 GMT+10

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled President Donald Trump cannot silence critics on his Twitter account, maintaining that blocking them violates the Constitution's right to free speech.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in a 3-0 decision Tuesday the First Amendment prohibits Trump from blocking critics from his account, a public platform.

On behalf of the three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote "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."

Trump has used his Twitter account, which has more than 60-million followers, to promote his agenda and to attack critics.

The court ruled on a lawsuit filed by Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute on behalf of seven people who were blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.

The decision upheld a May 2018 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The U.S. Justice Department said the ruling was "fundamentally misconceived," arguing Trump used the account in a personal capacity to express his views, and not as a forum for public discussion.

The Trump administration did not immediately comment on the ruling, nor did Twitter or the plaintiffs.

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