Throughout the Trump administration, the White House and Department of Justice have supported the president’s opinion that his tweets count as official White House statements. The public, high-profile nature of the president’s personal Twitter account has set a new norm for White House communications and has now begun a heated debate concerning First Amendment protections of individuals who engage with the president directly through the social media platform.
On July 9, a federal appeals court decided that due to the large following and public use of his private account, the president is not allowed to block followers, including critics, for doing so would constitute viewpoint discrimination. This decision sets a new precedent regarding public officials’ use of social media and the guidelines that elected officials must follow to uphold First Amendment rights online.
As forms of communication continue to advance and evolve, the court has helpfully reminded the administration of a longstanding principle: The presidency is supposed to represent all Americans. As such, it must listen to all of them—even those who disagree with and criticize it.