A group of seven Twitter users is banking on the First Amendment to take Donald Trump to court and make him pay for blocking them. The lawsuit was filed against the United States president on Tuesday after Trump blocked the said Twitter users for tweeting criticisms against him. The Twitter users also named a couple of high-ranking White House aides as defendants in the lawsuit.
According to the Knight First Amendment Institute, which represents the disgruntled Twitter users, Trump should not keep people from knowing his views on important issues which he gamely post on his personal Twitter account. The plaintiffs also said that Trump should not prevent his constituents from expressing their opinions on him and his administration. The group claimed that by blocking other Twitter users, Trump is violating their rights to free speech. The blocked users also argued that Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is considered a public forum since he is a public official.
The Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech organization based at Columbia University, also stressed in the lawsuit that Trump “was imposing an unconstitutional restriction on the plaintiff’s ability to participate in a designated public forum,” as reported by The New York Times. The plaintiffs also argue that the act of blocking Twitter users because of their political beliefs is not only an attack on their freedom of speech but it also “imposes an unconstitutional restriction on their right to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The suit, which was filed in the New York federal court, seeks an injunction that will require Trump to lift the restrictions on his Twitter account. Simply put, the Twitter users who sued Trump wants the president to unblock them and to prevent him from blocking other Twitter users simply because of differing opinions.
Trump is an avid Twitter user and has used the social media platform to share his views on national and international issues. Trump also uses Twitter to commend his supporters and chastise those who are against him. For most of his critics, however, Twitter is a venue for Trump to spread what they consider as “fake news” or “alternative facts.”
According to BBC, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was also named in the lawsuit along with Trump’s social media director Daniel Scavino, said last month that the tweets sent out by Trump are “official statements by the president of the United States.” Trump, himself, has defended his use of Twitter.
“My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.”
This is not the first time that Trump has been sued. In fact, Trump has been involved in 4,095 lawsuits in the last three decades, according to USA Today. Back when he was still only a business mogul, Trump settled for $25 million after the former Trump University was sued by former students after the school failed on its promise for them to “unlock the secrets of entrepreneurship.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was sued after his team sent out texts to people who did not sign up to receive such messages. A lawsuit was also filed for his use of a copyrighted image of a bald eagle.
The seven plaintiffs include Eugene Gu, writer Rebecca Bulkwalter, Philip Cohen, a professor, comedian Nick Pappas, songwriter and political organizer Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, police officer Brandon Neely, and former pro cyclist Joseph Papp. Gu, a physician by trade, was blocked after tweeting about Trump’s infamous “covfefe” tweet.
“Covfefe: the same guy who doesn’t proofread his Twitter handles the nuclear button.”
Bloomberg reported that the plaintiffs believe that by blocking their Twitter accounts, Trump is imposing “an unconstitutional restriction on their right to access statements that defendants are otherwise making available to the public at large.”
[Featured Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]