For many months now, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has apparently been blocking people on Twitter who replied to his tweets with comments counter to his own. In fact, here at IR.net we have two staff members who have been blocked by the President for posting their opinions to tweets that Trump had made in the past.
Recently the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven individuals who were also blocked by the President, and just this week a key filing, called a ‘Stipulation’ was released. The Stipulation basically is a document in which the two sides, Knight and the White House, agree to a number of facts prior to the case moving forward. In this Stipulation, the White House has in fact agreed that President Trump does block people on Twitter.
“Defendant Donald Trump is President of the United States and is sued in his official capacity only. President Trump operates and oversees the operation of a verified Twitter account under the handle @realDonaldTrump. The President has blocked all of the Plaintiffs except the Knight First Amendment Institute from this account, reads the Stipulation”
It appears that neither side is arguing over the fact that Trump does block people who disagree with him, but instead the White House is arguing that it is the resident’s right to block whoever he wants since the account is not the ‘official’ White House account. The Knight Institute is arguing, however, that the President uses the account as if it were a government account, therefore, the blocking of citizens is violating their First Amendment rights.
While the case really could go in either direction, one particular tweet coming from the President was referenced in the Stipulation as a means to show that he, himself, views his Twitter use as a part of his job as President:
“My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.”
What started out as only a dozen or so banned Twitter accounts has grown to more than 100 over the last few months. And although it is true that banned users can log out and sign in as a guest to view the President’s messages, it’s an additional step they have take, and they still will not be able to add their response to any of Trump’s tweets. The last time we checked the Constitution, all Americans were ‘created equal’.
Were you blocked by Trump on Twitter? Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.