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US President Trump Cannot Legally Block Followers On Twitter, Rules US Judge

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| May 24 , 2018 , 15:01 IST

Twitter-savvy US President Donald Trump is famous for his aversion to traditional forms of media and instead often uses the micro-blogging medium to make important announcements.

Considering Trump's position as a public official, a federal judge on Thursday ruled that he cannot legally block his followers on Twitter based on their political views. US District Judge in New York Southern District Naomi Reice Buchwald announced the ruling based on a petition filed by a group of 7 people who alleged that President Trump unlawfully blocked them on Twitter.

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The group had questioned the court as to whether a public official can "block" a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views expressed by the concerned person, and whether the US President falls under the purview of such a 'public official'.

Judge Buchwald said that the answer to both the questions was no.

"The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests," the judge said.

The decision of the court was welcomed by the petitioners.

"We're pleased with the court's decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform," said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the group.

"The President's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end," he said.