In May, Federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Trump was in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by blocking individuals from his Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump. In responding to the judge’s ruling, President Trump proceeded to unblock the seven accounts named in the original complaint from Knight First Amendment Institute.
In July, we reported that Knight First Amendment Institute was still in the process of working to get the president to unblock all of the additional Twitter accounts which he had blocked, simply because they had criticized him. Even though the judge’s ruling pertained only to the 7 accounts in the original lawsuit, the ruling itself proclaimed the actions, by government officials blocking users on social media, to be unconstitutional.
Because of this, Knight Institute decided that their work was not done.
“We sent a letter to the government on June 28,” Senior Staff Attorney at Knight Institute, Katie Fallow, told Hill Reporter back in July. “It basically said ‘a lot of other people are still blocked, and all indications are that they have been blocked based on [their] viewpoint.’ and to avoid any further potential litigation, [we asked] ‘would you unblock the other individuals?’”
Now Knight Institute is taking things to another level, sending a formal letter to the president’s representatives, asking once more for him to unblock these accounts. In doing so they also included a list of 41 Twitter users who have contacted them, letting them know that they still remain blocked. Part of this letter can be seen below.
We write in response to your email of July 10, 2018, in which you accepted our offer to provide you with information about individuals who remain blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account because they criticized the president.
As you know, on May 23, 2018, the district court ruled in the above referenced case that defendants’ viewpoint-based blocking of individuals from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account violates the First Amendment. On June 5, 2018, you informed us that the individual plaintiffs’ access to the @realDonaldTrump account had been restored. Unfortunately, defendants continue to block many other individuals from the account. Some of these individuals have reached out to us since the district court issued its decision. It appears to us that all or nearly all of these individuals were blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account because they criticized President Trump or his policies.
Accordingly, on June 28, 2018, we wrote to ask that defendants unblock these individuals from the @realDonaldTrump account. Although we recognize that the district court’s ruling does not expressly require defendants to take this action, the court has made clear that defendants’ blocking of individuals from the account on the basis of viewpoint is unconstitutional. We also note that the Supreme Court has recently considered the President Trump’s tweets as official White House statements, see Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, 2018 WL 3116337, at *19 2 (June 26, 2018), effectively endorsing a key premise of the district court’s analysis. Further, the action we propose here would obviate the need for litigation in the district court while defendants’ appeal is pending in the Second Circuit.
As the administrators of the account, defendants should be able to determine readily which Twitter users have been blocked from @realDonaldTrump. For your convenience, however, we are attaching to this letter a list of individuals who have informed us that they have been blocked from the account, along with information we have collected about the tweets that apparently provoked defendants to block them.
While the list of 41 names only represents those users who have contacted Knight Institute, the attorneys are asking that Trump unblock all accounts which were blocked for criticizing him and his administration.
As you may see in the list below, my name appears, as my Twitter account, @EdKrassen, has been blocked by President Trump since May of 2017 after I had made the following tweet.
Are you still obsessing over the women who beat you in the popular vote??
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) June 1, 2017