Blocking people on Twitter can be pretty satisfying—who says you have to listen to your trolls?
Well, if you’re president, the First Amendment does. A New York court has declared that Donald Trump blocking users on his Twitter account is illegal.
The court issued its verdict today, favoring eight plaintiffs who had been blocked by the president versus Trump, Taylor Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Daniel Scavino.
The individuals had “each tweeted a message critical of the President or his policies in reply to a tweet from the @realDonaldTrump account,” and were blocked shortly after. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University was also a plaintiff, but on the premise that it would have liked to hear the opinions expressed by the individuals, had they not been blocked.
The court found that both the president and Scavino, who manages Trump’s Twitter account and has the power to block people, had infringed on the plaintiffs’s right to free speech. Blocking users prevents them from seeing tweets posted by the blocker, or replying to them directly in the comments—effectively keeping them out of the threaded discussion that ensues.
In issuing the decision, judge Naomi Reice Buchwald did not directly order Trump to unblock users. However, she noted that “we must assume that the President and Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional.”