President Donald Trump cannot block Twitter users for the political views they have expressed, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday. Blocking users from viewing his Twitter account — a feature offered by the social media platform — is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling.
“While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the President’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him,” Buchwald wrote.
The government had argued that blocked individuals could still access the president’s tweets. The judge agreed but said that even considering the president’s First Amendment rights, preventing users from interacting directly with him on Twitter represented a violation of a “real, albeit narrow, slice of speech.”
The case had been brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The institute represented seven individuals who had been blocked by account.
“We’re pleased with the court’s decision,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director. “The president’s practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end.”
There was no immediate response to the ruling from the White House.