Judge Tells Trump To Mute, Not Block, On Twitter

Judge Tells Trump To Mute, Not Block, On Twitter

The federal judge Thursday asked if muting rather than blocking Twitter accounts he dislikes would represent a settlement. He is the president, after all, and his tweets are largely accepted to be official statements from the White House.

The plaintiffs in the case are the Knight First Amendment Insitute and seven people blocked by the President's @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.

Seven people from around the country - including a comedian, a professor, a policeman and a singer - joined together in a lawsuit after Trump blocked them from seeing and commenting on his tweets.

Buchwald kept coming back to muting as a compromise that wouldn't give critics equal access to the president through Twitter and wouldn't let Trump keep them completely away from his account, but would give both sides part of what they wanted.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Michael Baer has argued that Trump should be able to block people on Twitter just as he can choose who to not listen to in a room full of people. "I don't think we can decide this case on real-world analogies alone", he said.

"This way he does not affect the interaction of the other constituents", she said.

Buchwald hinted that she may side with the plaintiff's argument. Buchwald said. "He can avoid hearing them by muting them". "Once it's a public forum, you can't shut somebody up because you don't like what they're saying", she said. And the defense has stressed the fact that everyone who is blocked by the president can still view his tweets by logging out of their accounts, and that they still have many other ways to petition the government.

Fallow also rejected the notion that the @realdonaldtrump account is "purely personal".

To deny some Twitter users the ability to view and reply to these tweets is to deny their First Amendment right, the Knight Institute contends. "It is not the case that the only person harmed by blocking is the blockee".

After admonishing the attorneys to consider her mute-don't-block proposal, Buchwald said she will make a decision "in due course", though she said one likely won't come immediately.

After the hearing, Mr. Baer and his team left without taking questions. "But given that the government has argued that the president's Twitter account isn't subject to the First Amendment at all.it would be a pretty remarkable about-face if the government were to propose a settlement at this point. That is much less restrictive and burdensome on the plaintiffs' speech rights".

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