A prominent First Amendment group is calling on President Trump to unblock his critics on Twitter or face legal action.
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday demanding that Trump unblock individuals who sent critical tweets to his @realDonaldTrump account. The institute contends that Trump’s account is a “designated public forum” that is subject to the free speech protections of the First Amendment.
“Your vigorous use of Twitter to comment about matters mundane as well as momentous has afforded Americans valuable insight into your policies, actions and beliefs,” the letter reads. “This Twitter account operates as a ‘designated public forum’ for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking our clients in unconstitutional.”
The group says that Trump’s blocking of Twitter accounts suppresses speech by limiting their ability to view his tweets and participate in discussion around his tweets.“When the government makes a space available to the public at large for the purpose of expressive activity, it creates a public forum from which it may not constitutionally exclude individuals on the basis of viewpoint,” they said.
The group’s letter concludes by asking Trump to unblock the accounts or instruct his aides to do so.
“Though the architects of the Constitution surely didn’t contemplate presidential Twitter accounts, they understood that the President must not be allowed to banish views from public discourse simply because he finds them objectionable,” Knight Institute executive director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.
Last month a writer for ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” claimed she was blocked by Trump on Twitter after responding to one of his tweets.
Shortly after the 2016 election, several Twitter users reported being blocked by then-President-elect Trump after sending critical tweets.