President Trump is not giving up his fight to block critics from following or influencing his Twitter feed.
Last Friday, attorneys for the Justice Department asked the full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to determine whether a three-judge appeals panel erroneously ruled that the President could not prevent people from following his account on the popular social media site and app.
Those attorneys believe the case could have important implications for public officials who regularly use personal social media accounts to discuss public issues.
If the request for what is known as an “en banc” hearing is denied, the case could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Justice Department’s lawyers argue that last month’s ruling conflicts with previous court precedents and presents a question of “exceptional importance.” In that ruling, the 2nd Circuit panel decided that Trump’s daily tweets were largely official in nature, and that he had violated the First Amendment by blocking individuals with opposing points of view.
The lawyers add that the president’s @realDonaldTrump account is a personal one that he created in 2009, long before taking office. They claim that it should therefore be treated like any other personal property that belongs to him. “His ability to exclude others from this personal property is likewise independent of his office. That authority was conferred on him by Twitter, not by the government,” they write.
The request came as a result of a case brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The Institute sued on behalf of seven individuals whom Trump allegedly blocked for criticizing his policies.
Jameel Jaffer, the Institute’s director, says in an email, “The panel’s opinion was thorough and well-reasoned, and the arguments the White House makes in its petition for rehearing are ones the panel appropriately rejected. We hope and expect that the petition will be denied.”