President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to allow him to block his critics on Twitter. On Thursday, the Trump administration filed a petition seeking to have a 2018 lower court ruling overturned. That ruling found that the president violated the First Amendment by blocking his critics on his @realdonaldtrump account, which boasts 85 million followers and what he often uses for political topics.
The petition argues that the account is a "personal account" rather than the official account for the president and explains that "the President uses his account to speak to the public, not to give members of the public a forum to speak to him and among themselves." Urging a review of the case, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall wrote that Trump's "ability to use the features of his personal Twitter account, including the blocking function, are independent of his presidential office."
The motion comes after the federal appeals court in New York ruled in 2018 that violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint due to portions of his account being considered a public forum. That ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel in 2019, according to CNN. The initial judgment had been prompted by a 2017 lawsuit from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University after seven of its members were blocked by the president. Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, is now urging the Supreme Court to deny the president's request for an appeal.
"This case stands for a principle that is fundamental to our democracy and basically synonymous with the First Amendment: government officials can't exclude people from public forums simply because they disagree with their political views," Jaffer said, CBS News reports. "The Supreme Court should reject the White House's petition and leave the appeals court's careful and well-reasoned decision in place."
The outlet reports that a decision regarding whether or not to hear the case is not expected anytime soon and likely will not come before the Nov. 3 presidential election. Given that the Trump administration has requested that the Supreme Court, and not lower courts, "decide where to draw the line between the President's personal decisions and official conduct," there are expected delays due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, as Trump awaits any news regarding the petition, he hasn't shied away from lashing out at Twitter. On Thursday, the same day the petition was filed, the president slammed the social media platform, accusing Twitter of only showcasing "negative" views "of Republican voices."