Trump blocking critics on Twitter violates Constitution - judge
By Brendan Pierson NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge in New York on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users because doing so violates their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan came in response to a lawsuit filed against Trump in July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several Twitter users
By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge in New York on Wednesday ruled that President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users because doing so violates their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan came in response to a lawsuit filed against Trump in July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several Twitter users.
Buchwald agreed with the plaintiffs' contention that the discussions arising from Trump's tweets should be considered a public forum. She rejected an argument made by Justice Department lawyers that Trump's own First Amendment rights allowed him to block people with whom he did not wish to interact.
Trump was a prolific tweeter from his @RealDonaldTrump account even before being elected in 2016 and has since made it an integral and controversial part of his presidency. Aides reportedly have tried to rein in his tweeting, which often starts early in the morning. But he has remained unfettered and used Twitter to promote his agenda, announce policy and attack critics, especially the media, and the investigation into possible Russian connections with his campaign.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which represents the president in the case, had no immediate comment. Twitter also did not immediately comment.
The Knight Institute and the individual Twitter users claimed in their lawsuit that by blocking users for their views, Trump was shutting them out of discussion in a public forum, violating the First Amendment.
When one Twitter user blocks another, the blocked user may not respond to the blocker's tweets on the social media platform.
Media reports say among those Trump has blocked are novelists Stephen King and Anne Rice, comedian Rosie O'Donnell, model Chrissy Teigen, actress Marina Sirtis and the military veterans political action committee VoteVets.org.
In addition to Trump, the lawsuit named his social media director, Dan Scavino, as a defendant.
"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," Buchwald said.
She stopped short of directly ordering Trump to unblock users, saying it was not necessary to enter a "legal thicket" involving courts' power over the president.
"Because no government official is above the law and because all government officials are presumed to follow the law once the judiciary has said what the law is, we must assume that the President and Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional," she wrote.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by David Shepherdson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bill Trott)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.