Lawyers claim Donald Trump is violating first amendment by blocking users on Twitter

Lawyers claim Donald Trump is violating first amendment by blocking users on Twitter

Lawyers claim Donald Trump is violating the first amendment (Stock image)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lawyers have claimed that when Donald Trump blocks users from his personal Twitter account, he is violating protections guaranteed under the first Amendment.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday (June 6) about the issue, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The letter called on the President to stop blocking users on his account, as it is a “designated public forum," meaning all should be allowed access to it.

Executive director of the institute Jameel Jaffer said: “Though the architects of the Constitution surely didn’t contemplate presidential Twitter accounts, they understood that the President must not be allowed to banish views from public discourse simply because he finds them objectionable."

The institute is currently representing two Twitter users who have been blocked by Trump, Holly O’Reilly and Joseph M Papp.

O'Reilly tweeted an image of the Pope with Trump in which the Pontiff is seen raising his eyebrows, with the caption "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you."

Papp tweeted the President in response to a weekly address video by Trump with this comment, "Greetings from Pittsburgh, Sir. Why didn’t you attend your #PittsburghNotParis rally in DC, Sir?”

Free speech attorneys have said these incidents would be like a city council blocking critics from going to a town hall meeting.

Senior litigator for the institute Katie Fallow has argued that whilst users can still see his tweets when they are logged out of their accounts, it is a unnecessary burden on them to view what Trump has said.

But lawyer Michael Overing has argued that courts would probably claim a public forum has to be a physical location, and so Twitter would not count.

He also claimed Trump has first Amendment rights on Twitter, and they could overrule the rights of those he has blocked. Overing continues by suggesting that, just as not all reporters get a say in a news conference, not everyone has a right to make comments towards the President's statements.