The district court judge who’s weighing arguments over whether President Trump violated seven people’s constitutional rights when he blocked them from his @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account so far seems skeptical of Trump’s attorney’s defense.
In a Manhattan federal court on Thursday, US District Judge Naomi Reice pressed Michael Baer, an attorney with the Department of Justice representing President Trump, on whether Twitter was different from a public town hall, where government officials can’t do something like cut the microphone to block unwanted opinions.
“Once it is a public forum, you can’t shut somebody up because you don’t like what they’re saying,” said Reice. “Why is that possibly OK?”
The plaintiffs in the case, who are represented by Katie Fallow, a senior attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, say the president violated their First Amendment rights by imposing a viewpoint-based restriction on their participation with his Twitter account — which they argue is a public forum.
Over March, May, and June 2017, the president blocked the seven accounts, which tweeted critical comments of him and his policies. This has barred these users from interacting with the president’s @realdonaldtrump account. And if they’re logged in to their accounts, they also can’t see or reply to his tweets, view his list of followers or followed accounts, or use Twitter to search for his tweets.
“Obviously he wants to suppress our speech,” plaintiff Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland professor of sociology who was blocked by Trump’s @realdonaldtrump Twitter account in…