President Donald Trump is facing yet another lawsuit that supporters are decrying as frivolous. This time, the commander in chief has been slapped with a challenge by the Knight First Amendment Institute at New York’s Columbia University for blocking Americans on Twitter.
Trump himself was named in the lawsuit, alongside White House press secretary Sean Spicer and White House director of social media Daniel Scavino, which was filed on Tuesday.
“President Trump’s Twitter account has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech by, to, and about the president,” the lawsuit reads.
“In an effort to suppress dissent in this forum, defendants have excluded — blocked — Twitter users who have criticized the president or his policies. This practice is unconstitutional, and this suit seeks to end it.”
The ultimate goal of the lawsuit is to prevent Trump and his social media aides from blocking Twitter users on either his personal Twitter account, which dates back to 2009 and has 33.7 million followers, the official POTUS account (19.3 million followers), or the official White House account (14.9 million followers).
Seven people blocked from the president’s personal page – the frequent use of which Trump described as “modern day presidential” in a recent tweet – were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which provides examples of why those people were blocked.
One person was allegedly blocked for commenting, “Congrats and now black lung won’t be covered under #TrumpCare” on a Trump tweet congratulating the opening of a Pennsylvania coal mine. The lawsuit goes so far as to detail how many likes and retweets each tweet that resulted in a presidential block received.
In addition to stripping Trump of the option to block, the Knight Institute is seeking the court to declare Trump’s act of blocking people unconstitutional, to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees, and to “grant additional relief as may be just and proper.”