President Trump has a history of blocking his critics on Twitter — but on Wednesday, a federal judge in New York ruled that doing so is unconstitutional. According to The New York Times, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald classified Trump's Twitter feed as a public forum; so by blocking people from viewing and replying to his posts, the president is violating the First Amendment.
"While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the President’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him," Judge Buchwald wrote.
— Knight 1st Amendment (@knightcolumbia) May 23, 2018
She also noted that Trump's Twitter is particularly importance since he's used the platform to announce both policy decisions and White House staff changes.
Vox reported that the decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and a number of individuals that Trump blocked. The suit not only named Trump, but a handful of his associates, such as Daniel Scavino (who has access to Trump's Twitter).
The government tried to argue that anyone blocked by Trump's account could still access his tweets — and the judge actually agreed — but she ultimately said that preventing anyone from interacting with him on the social media platform is a violation of a "real, albeit narrow, slice of speech."
Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said the plantiffs are "pleased with the court's decision."
"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 added.
It's unclear whether or not Trump will unblock every user he's currently blocking, and the ruling didn't specify how or when he does so. The Department of Justice issued a statement about their intentions to potentially challenge the decision.
NEW: DOJ statement on the Trump/twitter blocking ruling:
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) May 23, 2018
As for the future, Judge Buchwald suggested Trump simply mute people instead of blocking them.