Donald Trump is asking the Supreme Court to allow him to block critics on Twitter.
There are so many other things the leader of the land of the “free” should be concerned about. But instead, he’s trying to take away people’s constitutional First Amendment right on Twitter, by asking that the Supreme Court walk back a lower court ruling that banned Trump from blocking his critics on Twitter.
This all happened on Thursday, which is now bringing up a new conversation and questions: Should Trump be this consumed by social media, and how is his social media dependency affecting his ability to perform his job as president properly? Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that Trump used his account as “an official channel of communication.” CNBC reports that on that basis, the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court unanimously stated that Trump has made his presence on a public forum and is forbidden from blocking users based on their political views. And back in March, the full appeals court declined to revisit the decision.
However, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall submitted a petition to the justices claiming that the appeals panel inappropriately failed to point exactly which account he’d like to have users blocked from, referring to Trump’s personal and official communications Twitter accounts. “President Trump’s ability to use the features of his personal Twitter account, including the blocking function, are independent of his presidential office,” Wall wrote. “Blocking third-party accounts from interacting with the #realDonaldTrump account is a purely personal action that does not involve any ‘right or privilege created by the State.’”
Wall argues that Trump’s decision to block users doesn’t take away people’s ability to criticize him, highlighting that people can still view his tweets and screenshot them while not logged onto the platform. CNBC reports that Wall said the appeals court ruling will cripple public officials’ ability “to insulate their social-media accounts from harassment, trolling, or hate speech without invasive judicial oversight.”
The entire matter stems from a 2017 case involving The First Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven Twitter users after Trump blocked them for replying to one or more of his tweets, CNBC reports. In a statement on Thursday, Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director said the case “stands for a principle that is fundamental to our democracy and basically synonymous with the First Amendment: government officials can’t exclude people from public forums simply because they disagree with their political views.” He added, “The Supreme Court should reject the White House’s petition and leave the appeals court’s careful and well-reasoned decision in place.”
If the Supreme Court picks the case, it will likely be dealt with at the beginning of October, and the decision would most likely come by June 2021, months after the upcoming presidential election.