GOOD

Lawyers Demand Trump Stop Blocking Critical Twitter Followers

“The President must not be allowed to banish views from public discourse simply because he finds them objectionable.”

If President Trump won’t delete his Twitter account, Americans should at least be able to send him critical messages through the platform.


That’s the argument in a letter sent by lawyers on behalf of individuals whose Twitter accounts have been “blocked” by Trump’s twitter account. A team from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University agreed to represent the blocked users.

The letter asks the president to unblock the followers, saying the Constitution prohibits him from denying Americans the ability to openly criticize or mock him:

“This Twitter account operates as a ‘designated public forum’ for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional,” the letter said. “We ask that you unblock them and any others who have been blocked for similar reasons.”

The foundation’s letter specifically mentions Trump’s personal twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, which currently has 38.1 million followers. That account blocked two users cited in the letter, who posted critical tweets directed at Trump’s account. The president also inherited the @potus account from President Obama.

The foundation acknowledges the obvious: the Constitution was written before Twitter, social media, or the Internet itself were even a spark in someone’s imagination. But they argue Trump’s tweets rise to the level of statements made by a public official, and by blocking users, Trump is preventing citizens from having access to, or interacting with, those public statements. That’s because when a user is blocked on Twitter, they can no longer see a user’s account, or comment on tweets the user has made. The block function was originally put in place by Twitter’s administrator’s to help protect users who are being harassed. But this is the first time someone has flipped the script legally, arguing that the privacy measure is actually a restriction on free speech.

“This is a context in which the Constitution precludes the President from making up his own rules,” said Knight Institute executive director said Jameel Jaffer in a statement. “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. Having opened this forum to all comers, the President can’t exclude people from it merely because he dislikes what they’re saying.”

Articles

A two-minute television ad from New Zealand is a gut punch to dog lovers who smoke cigarettes. "Quit for Your Pets" focuses on how second-hand smoke doesn't just affect other humans, but our pets as well.

According to Quitline New Zealand, "when you smoke around your pets, they're twice as likely to get cancer."

Keep Reading
Health
via Bossip / Twitter

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders took aim at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg onstage at Wednesday's Las Vegas Democratic debate, likening the billionaire businessman to President Donald Trump and questioning his ability to turn out voters.

Sanders began by calling out Bloomberg for his stewardship of New York's stop and frisk policy that targeted young black men.

Keep Reading
Politics
via United for Respect / Twitter

Walmart workers issued a "wake up call" to Alice Walton, an heir to the retailer's $500 billion fortune, in New York on Tuesday by marching to Walton's penthouse and demanding her company pay its 1.5 million workers a living wage and give them reliable, stable work schedules.

The protest was partially a response to the company's so-called "Great Workplace" restructuring initiative which Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out in at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by the end of 2020.

Keep Reading
Communities