This has come up before and we’ve covered it here, but now another group of so-called free speech advocates are suing the President because he blocked them on Twitter. A lawsuit such as this can eat up a lot of time and resources, so you need someone to handle that process. In this case it’s a group formed by Columbia University called the Columbia University Knight Institute.
While it’s a little difficult to piece together, the basis for their claims seems to be that the President’s Twitter account is a “public forum” and so he can’t use his social media account the same as anyone else and shouldn’t be allowed to block trolls. (Campus Reform)
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that since President Trump’s Twitter account is a “public forum,” blocking citizens from having access to it is “unconstitutional.”
“Would anyone defend those exclusions on the ground that the meetings were held on private property?”
The suit, filed on behalf of seven individuals whom Trump has blocked, seeks “immediate injunction requiring [Trump] to unblock” those individuals, to refrain from blocking anyone else “on the basis of viewpoint,” and provide compensation for attorney’s fees.
So not only do they want to have the users unblocked, but they want to be reimbursed for those legal fees. But wasn’t the Columbia University Knight Institute created with $60M from Columbia University just so such legal costs could be covered? They were created last year and all of their action thus far have consisted of filing one lawsuit after another against the Trump administration.
They offer an interesting, if incredibly weak analogy as a supporting argument for their case. Imagine, they tell us, if you were a resident of a particular area where a town hall was being held by a public official but they only allowed in certain people to participate while keeping out others, presumably including you. That can’t be allowed, can it? And if not, since Twitter is basically Trump’s never-ending town hall, he can’t keep people out.
First of all, if you show up for a town hall and the space is already full to the capacity allowed by the fire department you won’t be getting in, so the analogy falls apart fairly early. But even if we ignore that inconvenient fact, if you manage to get in to a town hall and begin heckling and shouting endlessly you will be thrown out. The heckler’s veto is not allowed. And if you follow the President on Twitter only to constantly abuse him in that forum you may be given the boot as well.
Nobody is guaranteed direct access for a personal audience with elected officials. But the media covers each and every one of Trump’s tweets pretty much as they happen. If you’re really interested in seeing what he tweets you can do so with essentially no effort. Just follow a few reporters. I somehow doubt this lawsuit has much merit to it, but if they get it in front of the right judge they’ll probably get a hearing.