POTUS accused of violating constitutional rights.
President Donald Trump and several other serving members of the White House staff have found themselves being sued by the Knight First Amendment Institute, which is alleging that the president’s blocking of Twitter users who make fun of him, violates the Constitution of the United States of America.
Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter which only a few weeks go he used to declare that it was “modern day presidential” looks set to become the center of a new legal battleground. Crucially however, the new lawsuit focuses not on his tweets but something altogether more intriguing; blocking his Twitter critics.
Not that one new lawsuit will probably phase the current president. Donald Trump has been party to over 4,000 lawsuits in the last 30 years, according to some US media sources.
New York, New York
The new lawsuit has been filed in Manhattan on behalf of seven individuals by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech group at Columbia University. The seven individuals claim that they are no longer able to talk to or hear from their president because he or his aides have blocked them. The lawsuit doesn’t just name Trump however. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media have also been highlighted.
The lawsuit has asked that a judge stop Trump and his media team from blocking critics from following his personal account, which has 33 million followers.
Jameel Jaffer, the institute’s director, said dozens of people had reached out to him, after his organization told the White House three weeks ago that it wasn’t permitted to block individuals from following the president’s 8-year-old “realdonaldtrump” account, because it affected American citizens constitutional rights. The Knight institute calls the blocking moves by Trump, an attempt to “suppress dissent” in a public forum – and a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
“Such blocking,” the complaint stated, “imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their right to access statements that defendants are otherwise making available to the public at large. It also imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their right to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Last month, Mr Spicer said Mr Trump’s tweets were considered “official statements by the president of the United States,” a fact the lawsuit also alludes to.
Twitter, the final frontier
“It’s fair to say that this is a new frontier,” Jaffer said. “The First Amendment principle is well-settled, but the applicability of that principle to this context isn’t an issue that the courts have yet had many occasions to address.” Now, however the courts, have that opportunity. At the time of writing, no official response from the White House, or Donald Trump had been forthcoming.