Washington, July 12 (IANS) A group of Twitter users blocked by President Donald Trump have sued him, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he as a government official cannot bar people from.
The blocked Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, filed suit against Trump, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Dan Scavino — the White House Director of social media on Tuesday, CNN reported.
The group claimed that the President’s blocking of users on the social network is “unconstitutional”.
The suit argued that Twitter is a public forum and as the President’s Twitter is used for official government announcements, the tweets should be accessible to everyone. The suit asked Trump to unblock the users.
“Twitter enables ordinary citizens to speak directly to public officials and to listen to and debate others about public issues, in the same way they could if they were gathered on a sidewalk or at a city council meeting,” the lawsuit said.
By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Trump was violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit stated.
Twitter did not comment on the lawsuit and the White House could not be reached for comment.
In a decision last month, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “cyberspace,” specifically the social media, is the most important platform for exchanging views, citing Twitter as a place for petitioning elected officials.
The lawsuit against Trump and his aides, filed in the Southern District of New York, followed a letter sent by the Knight First Amendment Institute to the White House in June, asking the President to unblock people. But the White House did not do so, the CNN report said.
The letter sparked debate over the constitutionality of elected officials blocking constituents.
Some people argued that the account, @realDonaldTrump, was personal and therefore blocking people did not violate the Constitution.