Judge says Trump should try muting rather than blocking his Twitter critics

Cheryl Sanders
March 9, 2018

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald asked both parties on Thursday. Seemingly contradicting that message, the White House officials have said that the president's tweets should be regarded as "official statements".

The plaintiffs in the case are the Knight First Amendment Insitute and seven people blocked by the President's @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. Others following him, however, can see responses from muted users.

In other words, if Trump does not want to see a particular Twitter user's unflattering remarks about him, he can mute the user and make those unflattering remarks disappear from his Twitter experience.

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 think that would be a great solution for me", Pappas said. He nearly never, if ever, has responded directly to a tweet.

"Other constituents are not able to engage in the cross-communication that Twitter is known for", she said.

But Buchwald was clearly serious about the proposal; as the two-hour hearing reached its close early Thursday afternoon, the judge urged the two sides to "consider my earlier suggestion". ". He can avoid hearing them simply by muting them". And if they're logged in to their accounts, they also can't see or reply to his tweets, view his list of followers or followed accounts, or use Twitter to search for his tweets. This has barred these users from interacting with the President's @realdonaldtrump account. Buchwald seemed receptive to that argument, saying at one point that "it is not the case that the only person who is harmed is the blockee".

"It is overwhelmingly used for official purposes", she said in the courtroom. After the three plaintiffs in attendance addressed reporters, Fallow herself was asked about Buchwald's suggestion.

He said under law the court does not have the power to force Trump to unblock his critics.Katie Fallow, an attorney for the Knight First Amendment Institute, argued that because Trump uses Twitter in an official capacity - communicating policy for example - "blocking people simply because they criticize him is viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment", the US Constitution's guarantee of free speech.

"We've said from the outset that muting would be a less restrictive alternative than blocking, so we were pleased the judge raised this possibility", Jaffer said.

Other reports by iNewsToday