Judge to Trump: Muting, not blocking followers, may end suit

Judge to Trump: Muting, not blocking followers, may end suit

The plaintiffs in the case are the Knight First Amendment Insitute and seven people blocked by the president's @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. After all, it was a major news story when his account went down for 11 minutes.

At a hearing held in a small, crowded courtroom, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald considered whether Trump's Twitter account constitutes a public forum and whether his tweets represent a "state action".

The case raised some fundamental constitutional issues, but the use of Twitter by the president gave them a new twist.

Department of Justice lawyers, meanwhile, argued otherwise - that Trump's personal Twitter feed was hardly the same public forum as his @POTUS account, and that besides, nobody was excluded from reading either, anyway.

The mute solution would allow the president to not see critical tweets, while still allowing users to see and respond to his. Buchwald said. "He can avoid hearing them by muting them".

The Associated Press reports that a federal judge in Manhattan in a hearing today suggested that the president should maybe mute instead of blocking his critics on Twitter.

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In such environments, a politician who's an elected official is not allowed to simply shut down a person in the audience because of contrarian views.

Katie Fallow, a lawyer for Knight, said that while muting was not a "perfect solution", it would be far less restrictive than blocking.

Katharine Fallow, an attorney for the plaintiffs, indicated that her side was amenable to Buchwald's suggestion that Trump mute rather than block, though she said it "not necessarily a flawless solution". Attorneys for seven plaintiffs argue as president it is unconstitutional for Trump to block people on Twitter. "I don't think we can decide this case on real-world analogies alone", he said. At one point, Baer offered his own analogy, saying that the president can choose to ignore protesters or even change locations at an event to make it more hard for the protester to reach him.

Buchwald urged both sides to accept her proposed resolution rather than continue to litigate.

If we were talking about Trump's official account, @POTUS, plaintiffs would have a case.

Buchwald presented muting as a possible compromise solution that could settle the suit without a ruling on the constitutionality of presidential Twitter blocking.

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