This summer, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit against the President of the United States, Donald Trump after he blocked seven individuals from the organization on Twitter.
Attorneys from the Department of Justice have asked for this lawsuit, which would take place in a New York Federal Court, to be dismissed.
The attorneys asking to dismiss the claim have argued that because the account is run by a private business, and because Trump had a Twitter account for years before becoming president, it is not an official count. They also raised concerns about the Supreme Court getting involved in a case like this, as it may be an overreach of their power.
The Knight First Amendment Institute has argued that although Trump is posting on a privately owned platform, he is using that platform to conduct official presidential business, and that because of this, he does not have the right to prevent members of the American public from seeing his account.
It feels absolutely ridiculous to me that I’m currently writing a blog post on state officials blocking citizens on Twitter, but it is a subject that needs to be addressed. As technology evolves, and more and more political conversation (and even action) moves onto an online platform, our understanding of laws that may or may not apply to these platforms needs to evolve with them.
While I understand that Twitter is a privately owned platform, the president uses it for public business, and by blocking dissenters, he is disenfranchising a significant portion of the American people.
If the court were to allow the president blocking whoever he pleases, this could create a serious crisis in the field of journalism. It’s common knowledge that Trump despises the press, and if he continues being allowed to block whoever he pleases, he could potentially destroy political reporting as we know it, which would lead to his administration being allowed to get away with a lot more behavior that the American public would not be pleased with if they knew, as they would be unchecked by journalists.