The Knight First Amendment Institute sued President Trump on behalf of the blocked users. Trump isn’t the only public official who has blocked users.
This week, a federal court weighed in on a similar case. The court ruled in that case that public officials are not allowed to block Twitter users based on their views.
A Loudoun County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors member, Phyllis J. Randall, runs a Facebook page to keep in touch with her constituents. She wrote:
“I really want to hear from ANY Loudoun citizen on ANY issues, request, criticism, compliment, or just your thoughts.”
A Loudoun County citizen, Brian C. Davidson, wrote on her page alleging corruption. She said she didn’t believe him, deleted the entire post, and blocked him.
She unblocked him 12 hours later, but he couldn’t post in the process. Davidson sued, alleging that his free speech rights had been violated. He said that she engaged in viewpoint discrimination.
District Judge James C. Cacheris explained in his decision:
“The Court cannot treat a First Amendment violation in this vital, developing forum differently than it would elsewhere simply because technology has made it easier to find alternative channels through which to disseminate one’s message.”
The reasoning behind this decision could likely be applied to the case involving President Trump.
Although, there is one lingering issue. It is unclear whether Trump intended his Twitter account to be a public forum like Randall did with her page.
That argument will likely fail. Trump uses his Twitter to convey messages and policy changes, such as his recent decision to ban transgender troops in the military.
Featured image via Twitter.