Trump’s lawyers continue to insist in court that the president can retaliate against citizens on Twitter: NY Times
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office (Photo: Screen capture)

On Thursday, The New York Times editorial board detailed an odd battle happening in the courts. A hearing at a court in Manhattan heard arguments about whether or not President Donald Trump blocking people from Twitter violates the First Amendment.

"A few months into his presidency, Mr. Trump and his social media director, Dan Scavino, were sued by seven plaintiffs — all active Twitter users and ardent critics of the president — who had been blocked from seeing the president’s Twitter posts. That meant they also couldn’t reply or see other people’s responses to his tweets," the editorial explained.

The plaintiffs in Knight Institute v. Trump complained that Trump's account is “a public forum under the First Amendment."

"Last year, the judge largely agreed, leaving Mr. Trump no choice but to comply with the Constitution and unblock the plaintiffs — as well as dozens of other users who came forward during the litigation," the editorial said.

However, that was not the end of the fight as Trump's team continues to push the case forward.

"That could have been the end of it, but the Justice Department appealed. This week, lawyers for the government argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that Mr. Trump can block whomever he likes on Twitter because he does so as a private citizen. And even if that were not the case, the lawyers said, Twitter is a private company, not a public forum where the First Amendment applies," the editorial said.

Trump has used his Twitter account in an unprecedented way. His tweets are classified as official White House memos. He uses Twitter to make announcements and to attack people. Blocking people who disagree with his views could be limiting their access to the president and the information he shares.

"But the broader import of this case is what it says about social media as a public forum where people interact with those who represent them — and where the First Amendment should apply with as much force as in the public square," the editorial said.

Read the full editorial here.