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Trump sued again for blocking people on Twitter


President Donald Trump is facing more legal woes for blocking people on Twitter despite a court order that he cannot do so.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a new lawsuit against Trump on Friday for keeping several Twitter users blocked on his @RealDonaldTrump account. The group is suing in federal court in New York — the same court that ruled in May 2018 that Trump cannot block people from using his account because he uses it to announce important policy updates. That decision was backed by a federal appeals court in July 2019, and the circuit court declined to review its decision in March.

But according to the Knight Institute's new lawsuit, Trump has not unblocked users he had blocked before his inauguration. Users who couldn't identify which tweet prompted Trump to block them also remain blocked, the suit said.

Trump's team told the Knight Institute on July 20 that the president doesn't intend to unblock those users, according to the suit. The Knight Institute's lawsuit wants Trump to blanket unblock all users unless there are justifiable reasons to keep them blocked on an individualized basis.

"Defendants’ continued blocking of Individual Plaintiffs … violates their First Amendment rights," the Friday lawsuit said. "It unconstitutionally restricts their rights to read or participate in the discussion occurring in the public forum of the @realDonaldTrump account."

The lawsuit continued: "It also unconstitutionally restricts their right to access statements that Defendants are otherwise making available to the public at large, and their right to petition the government for redress of grievances."

Trump was ordered to unblock Twitter users in the 2018 decision on the grounds that cutting people off from important policy announcements for things they tweeted was a violation of their free speech. In contesting the decision, the Justice Department argued that Trump's Twitter account was not owned by the government and he was free to exclude whomever he liked on his private account, the existence of which predates his presidency.

“An official’s decision to exclude someone from his personal residence would not exercise the authority of the government, even if he were giving official statements on that property on that day,” the Justice Department argued in an August court filing. “And what is true for real property is likewise true for a social media account.”

The White House declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/31/trump-sued-for-blocking-people-on-twitter-389588

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