By David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A group on Friday filed a new lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump demanding he unblock additional Twitter users from viewing his account.
Trump lost a prior lawsuit in May 2018 on behalf of other Twitter users and agreed to unblock those accounts. The new lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in U.S. District Court in Manhattan is on behalf of five additional individuals who remain blocked.
The White House and Twitter did not immediately comment.
Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, said “it shouldn’t take another lawsuit to get the president to respect the rule of law and to stop blocking people simply because he doesn’t like what they’re posting.”
A federal appeals court in July 2019 in a 3-0 ruling upheld the ruling and the full 2nd U.S. Circuit Appeals Court in March declined to reverse that ruling. The Trump administration has until Aug. 20 to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to seek review.
“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” wrote Circuit Judge Barrington Parker.
Trump has made his @RealDonaldTrump account, which he opened in 2009, a central and controversial part of his presidency, using it to promote his agenda and to attack critics to his more than 84 million followers.
Trump in May attacked Twitter for tagging his tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud about mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.
The appeals court said Trump’s account bears “all the trappings of an official, state-run account” and is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)