"President Trump's Twitter account has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important forum for speech by, to, or about the president", said Jameel Jaffer, the institute's executive director.
"Because of their criticism of the President, these Plaintiffs have been prevented or impeded from viewing the President's tweets, from replying to the tweets, from viewing the discussions associated with the tweets, and from participating in those discussions", the lawsuit said.
Others to be blocked included Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociology professor who called Trump a "Corrupt Incompetent Authoritarian", and Holly Figueroa, a national political organizer and songwriter who was cut off May 28 after posting an image of the pope looking incredulously at Trump, along with the statement: "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you", the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is being spearheaded by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Suit claims Trump violates the First Amendment...
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In the complaint, the foundation argues that the president's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is "a public forum under the First Amendment" because of how both Trump and his staff use the account to communicate. The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that by blocking Twitter users based on their viewpoints, the president is keeping them out of online dialogue on current events, in violation of their free-speech rights in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.
For example, Mr. Trump announced his nomination of Christopher A. Wray as F.B.I. director on Twitter, and the White House sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee pointing to Mr. Trump's denial on Twitter that he had taped his conversations with the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, as an answer to the panel's questions about that matter. "Trump is right. The government should protect the people".
The lawsuit represents seven users who have earned Trump's ire one way or another. "That's why the courts are protecting us from him", Pappas tweeted. Eugene Gu, another plaintiff, said he was blocked about two hours after tweeting at the president: "Covfefe: the same guy who doesn't proofread his Twitter handles the nuclear button". "Since, technically speaking, everything Trump tweets is paid for by taxpayers, that's not Constitutional". They were cut from his feed because they criticized the president and his policies on the platform.
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