President Donald Trump's Twitter habits have influenced how other elected and government officials interact with constituents online – and has become a free speech issue being battled in court, The Washington Post reported.
In court cases in Wisconsin, Missouri, and South Carolina, politicians are fighting over whether they can block their constituents from Twitter online conversations — and in each, a federal court ruling against Trump last May was cited — a case that is due to be argued on appeal Tuesday.
In the case, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald of New York said Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking individual users critical of the president or his policies. The comments attached to Trump's tweets are a public forum, the judge ruled. Trump unblocked the seven people behind the lawsuit and appealed.
"Sometimes public officials don't back down," Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University — who is scheduled to argue the case against the president Tuesday — told the Post.
"But the courts seem to be siding with the constituents who are blocked, and in some cases the public officials are changing their minds."
Justice Department lawyers say in court filings in New York that @realDonaldTrump is a personal account on a privately owned digital platform. Trump created the account before he took office, and it is subject to his control — not the control of the federal government, they argue.
Analiese Eicher, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, told the Post that being able to monitor state officials and interact with them online is critical to the group's work on voting rights, student loan debt and free speech.
Banning people is just as problematic "online as it is at a town hall meeting," she told the Post.
"Free speech is not just for people or organizations with whom public officials like or agree with," she told the Post.
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