Executive Branch

Chemerinsky joins brief arguing Trump's blocking of Twitter critics violates First Amendment

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Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California at Berkeley School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky has joined six law professors in an amicus brief that argues President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked critics from commenting on his Twitter account.

Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection filed the brief on Monday in Manhattan federal court, report The Hill and a Georgetown press release. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe also signed the brief (PDF).

The professors argue the social media account, which includes official statements, is a digital-age public forum. Blocking critics is viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment, the brief says.

Blocked users can’t see Trump’s tweets in real time, can’t retweet the president’s tweets, and can’t comment on his feed, the brief says.

Trump’s approach may eventually be embraced by officials at all levels of government “to seek the type of curated adoration in which healthy democratic dialogue dwindles,” the brief says.

“Such practices are a familiar playbook for authoritarian regimes. For them, cultivating a false sense that political leaders are adored by the public is critical to warping the public’s understanding of how those leaders are really viewed by the public and, in turn, to quashing democratic impulses.”

The brief supports a suit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on behalf of seven people blocked from Trump’s account.

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