by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a 75-page defense of crazy judicial overreach, a federal court held on Wednesday that President Trump (and anyone else with administrative permissions to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account) cannot block other individual Twitter users, even though Twitter’s user options clearly allow it.
At first blush, the rationale seems to make some legitimate and persuasive arguments. Because the @realDonaldTrump account is under government personnel control, and the White House conceded in this case that statements made on Twitter constitute official presidential statements, then his Twitter feed should be properly analyzed under the “public forum” doctrines.
However, the court’s analysis is flawed because of its threshold finding that any portion of Twitter itself is a traditional public forum, subject to First Amendment analysis. Just because a government official is present and speaking, those facts alone do not automatically and always convert a private forum into a public one. That the court emphasized Trump’s actual account should not be treated as a forum, but rather “the ‘interactive space’ where Twitter users may directly engage with the content of the President’s tweets — are properly analyzed under the ‘public forum doctrines’” is a distinction without a legal difference.