The Department of Justice filed an appeal to a New York judge’s ruling that President Donald Trump blocking Twitter users is unconstitutional.
The Justice Department filed the appeal on Monday to the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of Trump and Dan Scavino, the White House social media director. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University organized the lawsuit against Trump with the seven Twitter users he blocked.
“We’re pleased that the White House unblocked our clients from the president’s Twitter account but disappointed that the government intends to appeal the district court’s thoughtful and well-supported ruling,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, in a statement on Monday. “We look forward to defending the ruling in the Second Circuit.”
U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, ruled on May 23 that Trump can’t constitutionally block Twitter users from his @realDonaldTrump account.
The decision states the “interactive space” where Twitter users can engage with Trump directly is a “public forum” and, as such, “the blocking of the plaintiffs based on their political speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment.”
The seven Twitter users who Trump blocked that filed the lawsuit are now unblocked. (RELATED: Trump Blocking Critics On Twitter Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules)
The Justice Department argued in August 2017 that legally labeling Twitter a public space would “send the First Amendment deep into uncharted waters,” wrote Justice Department attorney Michael Baer.
He added that as a privately run website, a “central feature” of Twitter “enables all users to block particular individuals from viewing posts.”
After the initial ruling that Trump’s blocking of users was unconstitutional, there was a broader debate about how that would apply to all public officials.
“The court’s application of that principle here should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media,” said Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, after the Buchwald’s decision on May 23.
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