Twitter 'Free Speech' Case Sees Judge Suggest Trump Should Mute, Not Block

Twitter 'Free Speech' Case Sees Judge Suggest Trump Should Mute, Not Block

According to the AP, Manhattan federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald proposed an actionable settlement between the plaintiffs and the president: what if he just mutes them instead of blocking them?

Moreover, Baer noted that all but one of the plaintiffs has continued to engage the president's tweets despite being blocked by him.

The plaintiffs in the case are the Knight First Amendment Insitute and seven people blocked by the President's @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. In their brief, the group contends that Trump has made his personal Twitter account into a "digital-age public forum" by "fostering a dialogue on.official statements of government policy, responses by other Twitter users, and replies by the president to those responses". Both sides' lawyers said they were receptive to the idea.

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Justice Department lawyer Michael Baer, however, said that both muting and blocking users on Twitter are "within the president's associational freedoms".

"This way he does not affect the interaction of the other constituents", she said. Buchwald said adding, "He can avoid hearing them by muting them".

"It is just not like the public forum cases, where the microphone is turned off", he said. And the defense has stressed the fact that everyone who is blocked by the president can still view his tweets by logging out of their accounts, and that they still have many other ways to petition the government. "Over time, his account has become an important source of news and information about the administration - and about the president's disposition as well".

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It can not be the case that any personal medium of communication created or maintained by public officials in their personal capacity is subject to an all-or-nothing state action analysis when that person later becomes an officer of the state.

Trump's tweets, which cover everything from public policy to what he sees on television and attacks on Democrats, are seen by millions of people and often draw tens of thousands of comments each. "This is an official account and it is being used as a forum for speech". "As to the muting, I think that is an option".

"We've said from the outset that muting would be a less restrictive alternative than blocking, so we were pleased the judge raised this possibility", Jaffer said.

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At Thursday's hearing on motions by both sides to rule in their favor without a trial, Buchwald and the lawyers compared Twitter to a more traditional "public forum" - where government can't exclude people based on their opinions, but officials are free to avoid whoever they want.

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