Free speech does not require one to provide someone else a soapbox

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government abridging one’s free speech, but it does not, as a federal judge has ruled, require anyone to provide the soapbox for that speech.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of New York ruled today President Donald Trump may not block Twitter users who criticize him because that violates their right to free speech.

“While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the president’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him,” the judge said.

Any Twitter user can block people from accessing their online posts. The president should be treated no different. He certainly may not block people from commenting on their own social media apps, but he is hardly obligated to accommodate anyone who wants to glom onto his Twitter account.

Just because he is president does not change things.

As Ronald Reagan once said: “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!”

Trump addresses the media at the White House today. (Getty pix)

 

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20 comments on “Free speech does not require one to provide someone else a soapbox

  1. Rex Steninger says:

    Hello Thomas, I just received my sample ballot and could use a little help with the Lieutenant Governor and Supreme Court races. Do you have and advice?

    Rex

    >

  2. Both are tough calls. Will you be voting in the GOP or Dem primary?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Since when is Twitter paid for by trump?

  4. R-J today posted candidate responses to questionnaires:

    https://www.reviewjournal.com/voter-guide-2018/

  5. Trump doesn’t pay for Twitter but he should have a right to handle his account just as anyone else does and not be forced accommodate others on his account.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Should the EPA have the “right” to exclude reporters it doesn’t like?

    “Tuesday, selected reporters were blocked and an Associated Press reporter was forcibly removed when they tried to cover the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Leadership Summit on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances(PFAS) — a critical drinking water issue. This comes a week after reports that EPA leadership worked with the White House to suppress a draft toxicological assessment of four of these chemicals by the Centers for Disease Control.”

    http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/389059-reporters-need-access-to-epa-and-the-public-needs-information

  7. New York magazine:

    An EPA spokesman played down the muffling-of-the-free-press angle, telling NBC News that, “This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event.”

    In the afternoon, after multiple outlets picked up on the AP’s report, the EPA reversed course and allowed (AP reporter) Knickmeyer and the E&E News reporter into the meeting.

  8. Public government meeting is different from a personal twitter account.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If, as a public servant you can’t have a private email account how can you have a private twitter account?

  10. deleted says:

    And if you believe the EPA spokesman Thomas I’ve got a cone of silence to sell you fresh off the boat from Morocco.

    So the question is should the EPA be barring reporters from public meetings?

  11. As a public servant you can have a private email account, you just can’t use it to conduct public business. Trump is not conducting public business on twitter, he is ranting.

  12. EPA can bar reporters if the room is full, only.

  13. deleted says:

    Well I disagree.

    Everything the president has tweeted about is public business whether it’s about Comey, or Mueller, or democrats every tweet is about public business.

    Mostly the intention is to affect public affairs so how can his tweets be anything but public business?

  14. Steve says:

    Trump brought his private account with him. It remains his private account. The government does not suddenly own you (lock, stock and barrel) once you win an election. That kind of thinking is for places like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.
    That ruling means no one on Twitter would be able to block anyone.
    Now, the Whitehouse official twitter account would come under that email rule, no one can be blocked from it because it is the official word of the Whitehouse and the administration.

  15. deleted says:

    “Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said President Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum and blocking people who reply to his tweets with differing opinions constitutes viewpoint discrimination, which violates the First Amendment.”

  16. Steve says:

    She is taking over his account and making it the official account for the administration….anyone who actually reads the stuff he puts out knows (or should know) he’s blowing off steam. Like he has always done.
    This is a very dangerous ruling as it means anyone can have their twitter account taken over by the government. All it takes is a troll filing a lawsuit.

  17. Steve says:

    And a good chunk of money…

    Moreover, all anyone needs to do is create a new Twitter account and they can keep right on trolling him as long as they want. Over and over and over.

  18. Steve says:

    OK then. It comes down to defining the act of trolling vs simple disagreement over political opinion in a public forum. (if we accept the fact Twitter, used as a platform for political speech, is the same as a former military base remade into a public park. Twitter hasn’t changed but the base has.)
    It also creates a plethora of potential lawsuit filings as each and every blocked respondent’s each and every tweet must be reviewed by the court before ordering those respondents “unblocked”
    This could easily be applied to every instance of political speech in every forum.

    But muting is just fine? (as it leaves the muted party still able to respond and read, while the muting party simply never see’s those responses.)

    This may well be overturned on appeal. If it stands, it could well be used by anyone against anyone else who blocks based on political disagreement.

    https://knightcolumbia.org/sites/default/files/content/Cases/Wikimedia/2018.05.23%20Order%20on%20motions%20for%20summary%20judgment.pdf

  19. Steve says:

    She left it up to Trump and Scavino to decide what is political criticism vs trolling in the forum she defined.
    Nothing prevents the plaintiffs being re blocked once they reply in any questionable manner. Nothing stops the act of blocking in that forum either, it only requires Trump and anyone else with access to his account to determine what they consider protected political speech in the forum vs blockable speech or trolling.

    They could easily force another case (and get another judge) defining trolling vs protected speech. This also could result in conflicting rulings sending the issue up the chain to SCOTUS.

  20. Steve says:

    With another case in the works, this could be headed to SCOTUS. Maybe no Trump appeal? So far, silent, Trump is on Twitter case.

    El Reg “The Register” (A goto for IT/security people. Twitter hits home for many in this world)
    “There are numerous examples of politicians blocking people that disagree with them or criticize their policies on Twitter and Facebook – and, in fact, the Knight Institute is also backing a second case in the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court where a Virginia official blocked one of his constituents from his Facebook page.”

    El Reg did a great job demystifying her reasoning.

    ” the account was set up in 2009 – long before he became president – by pointing out that if a military base was decommissioned and turned into a public park, or a private airport turned into a public one, then the current usage would be the relevant one to consider. You couldn’t arrest someone for trespass in a public park because it used to be a restricted military base.”

    “because Trump and his social media team are not in a position to control subsequent discussion of any tweets in the comment threads, then by blocking citizens from being a part of that public discussion they are limited their free speech rights.”

    “the basic argument in favor of finding Trump’s account a public forum – and by extension all public official’s social media presences – is that allowing for free and open debate does not in any way impinge or prevent the person for continuing to communicate.
    In other words, Trump can continue to tweet unhindered, regardless of whatever happens in comment threads to previous tweets.”

    Two bottom lines here. Discussion following a tweet made by a public official becomes protected and all must be allowed to remain in the complete discussion. Blocking prevents this.

    And. Muting would be allowed as it only prevents the muted party from being seen on the account of the one “muting” and no one, other than the one muting, knows the muted party is no longer being seen by the one muting them.

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