A federal judge in NY ruledWednesday that President Trump may not block users from following his Twitter account because the social media platform is a "public forum" protected by the First Amendment.
Blocking users from viewing his Twitter account - a feature offered by the social media platform - is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling.
But Buchwald did not order Trump or Scavino to unblock the individual plaintiffs in the case or prohibit them from blocking others from the account based on their views as the plaintiffs' had asked.
And though the @RealDonaldTrump account was created long before the election, "the President and [his assistant Daniel] Scavino's present use of the @realDonaldTrump account weighs far more heavily in the analysis than the origin of the account as the creation of private citizen Donald Trump".
"The judge is taking a social media account launched well before Donald Trump was a public official and declaring it to be a public forum".
The case was brought forward by seven Twitter users who have been blocked on Twitter by the U.S. President.
The Justice Department has 60 days to appeal the ruling.
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven people who were blocked by Trump had filed the lawsuit past year. "First new Coal Mine of Trump Era Opens in Pennsylvania".
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It was argued that as an elected official Trump's Twitter is a valid channel for official communication - a White House press office probably just choked on its skimmed latte - and should be openly accessible to anyone.
"No government official - including the President - is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared", the judge said.
Justice Department lawyers had argued it was Trump's prerogative to block followers, no different from the president deciding in a room filled with people not to listen to some.
The Knight Institute hopes that the ruling against Trump will set a precedent for other public officials across the country.
Buchwald said Trump could opt to mute his critics instead.
"The more important social media becomes to the public discourse, the more important it becomes to defend First Amendment rights on social media", DeCell said. Should Trump ignore the ruling, analysts say, future litigation could force Twitter to unblock Trump's followers unilaterally.
Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, said he thinks the case was wrongly decided and expects it to be reversed.