Trump tramples the Constitution by blocking Twitter critics - lawsuit

Kristopher Drake
July 12, 2017

Leading the charge against Trump, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the White House's social media director, Daniel Scavino, is the Knight First Amendment Institute, a Columbia University-based organization that launched a year ago on a $60 million grant.

Also named in the suit were the president's press secretary, Sean Spicer, and social media director Daniel Scavino.

The Knight First Amendment Institute quotes those words to argue that the case is about the power to clamp down on dissent and control information.

The lawsuit asks a judge to stop Trump and his media team from blocking critics from following his personal account, which has 33 million followers, 14 million more than @POTUS and 19 million more than @WhiteHouse.

"This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it", said the lawsuit.

For example, Mr. Trump announced his nomination of Christopher A. Wray as F.B.I. director on Twitter, and the White House sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee pointing to Mr. Trump's denial on Twitter that he had taped his conversations with the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, as an answer to the panel's questions about that matter.

The Knight Institute requested that the court move to declare "viewpoint-based blocking" by the president's account unconstitutional, unblock the plaintiffs, and pay the plaintiffs' attorneys fees.

"Because of their criticism of the President, these Plaintiffs have been prevented or impeded from viewing the President's tweets, from replying to the tweets, from viewing the discussions associated with the tweets, and from participating in those discussions", the complaint claims. And Trump has tweeted unsubstantiated accusations against numerous people, including most recently former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey. He was blocked after responding to a Trump tweet on June 17 that lauded the opening of a new coal mine in Pennsylvania. Buckwalter received over 9,000 likes and 3,300 retweets after posting: "To be fair you didn't win the WH: Russia won it for you", according to the lawsuit. Gu was blocked by Trump on 18 June, the suit alleges, shortly after Gu questioned Trump's fitness for the presidency.

Trump's account, @realDonald Trump, started in 2009 and now has more than 33 million followers, who receive Trump's tweets in their own accounts.

"British Prime Minister May was very angry that the info the United Kingdom gave to the US about Manchester was leaked. Since, technically speaking, everything Trump tweets is paid for by taxpayers, that's not Constitutional".

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