Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules

Because President Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts, a federal court ruled.

[Read the opinion.][1]

The Justice Department had no immediate response to the ruling. But Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which represented a group of Twitter users who were blocked by Mr. Trump and filed the lawsuit, praised it. He said that public officials’ social-media accounts are among the most significant forums for the public to discuss government policy.

“The ruling will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints and that public officials don’t transform these digital spaces into echo chambers,” Mr. Jaffer said. “It will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy.”

Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump[2], has nearly 62 million followers, and he often makes policy pronouncements and drives the news of the day by tweeting. Last week, for example, Mr. Trump used Twitter to abruptly announce that the government would still seek to add a question to the 2020 census about people’s citizenship[3], reversing what administration officials had previously told a court.

His posts generate tens of thousands of replies, as people respond to what he has said and engage in debates with each other.

Against that backdrop, a group of Twitter users whom Mr. Trump had blocked from accessing his postings asked the White House to be unblocked[4] and then, when their request went unheeded, sued him[5]. They argued that Mr. Trump’s account amounted to a public forum — a “digital town hall” — so his decision to selectively block people from participating in that forum based on views they had expressed was unconstitutional discrimination based on their viewpoints.

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