Appeals Court: President Trump Can't Block His Critics On Twitter

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Appeals Court: President Trump Can't Block His Critics On Twitter
A ruling from the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals upholds a lower court's decision that the president can't block Twitter users from his official account.
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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump can't block critics on his public Twitter account. 

The judges upheld an earlier ruling that decided the @realDonaldTrump account is a "designated public forum" and that blocking users from it is discriminatory. 

It's in response to a 2017 lawsuit filed by a group of Twitter users. The plaintiffs alleged they were blocked by the @realDonaldTrump account after criticizing either the president or his policies. 

In May of last year, a federal judge ruled that doing so is "viewpoint discrimination" and violates the plaintiffs' First Amendment right to free speech.

The Justice Department filed an appeal on behalf of the president and the White House social media director, arguing that the act of blocking was private conduct, so the constitutional protection didn't apply. 

But according to the appeals court, the account is a public forum that's used by the president to make policy statements, like when when he announced he was nominating Christopher Wray to head the FBI and when he informed the public about discussions regarding North Korea's nuclear program. 

President Trump's official Twitter account has more than 61 million followers and more than 42,000 tweets. 

As The Washington Post points out, the case could set a precedent for future legal battles concerning how elected officials interact with constituents on social media. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN