A group of Twitter [website] users blocked by President Donald Trump [official website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Tuesday alleging the the action is a violation of their First Amendment [text] rights. The group, represented by the First Knight Amendment Institute and Columbia University [official website], argue that Trump’s account [Twitter profile] serves as a public forum that “has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the President” and individuals who are “blocked from the account are impeded in their ability to learn information that is shared only through that account.” Those filing the suit assert that the Trump administration’s blocking of Twitter users who have criticized the President’s policies is an unconstitutional viewpoint-based restriction and an “effort to suppress dissent”. The complaint cites the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina [JURIST report] which stated that social media platforms like Twitter are “perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard” and that they have become “the modern-day public square.”
Opponents of the lawsuit contend that Trump’s account is personal and not an official government outlet. The complaint rebuts this argument by citing several occasions that the President used his Twitter account as a formal channel of communication. Earlier this month Trump stated [Tweet], “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” In June he announced his nomination [Tweet] of Christopher A. Wray for Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website]. Also in June Trump made a series of tweets [JURIST report] to profess the need for his travel ban stemming from the London attack.