President Donald Trump Tries to Take Twitter Blocking Case to Supreme Court

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University issued a sharp response

Will the Supreme Court hear the case? Sean Pavone/iStock
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President Donald Trump is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court Review of a lower court decision on whether blocking critics from his Twitter account is constitutional, and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is not happy.

The Knight Institute filed a lawsuit against Trump in 2018, and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled in May of that year that Trump’s blocking of Twitter users with differing political viewpoints was a violation of the First Amendment, rejecting the president’s argument that his personal First Amendment rights superseded those of the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed that ruling in July 2019 and denied his request for an en banc review in March.

After Trump petitioned the Supreme Court Thursday for a review of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Knight Institute weighed in.

Executive director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the Second Circuit, said in a statement, “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. The Supreme Court should reject the White House’s petition and leave the appeals court’s careful and well-reasoned decision in place.”

Senior staff attorney Katie Fallow added, “Public officials across the country now use social media as their main means of communicating with their constituents. In recent months, we’ve seen how vital these accounts are to ensuring that people get the information they need to understand public policies related to everything from Covid-19 to unemployment benefits. Blocking people from these forums denies them access to important information and deprives them of the opportunity to engage with the officials who represent them.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.