Justice Dept. Defends Trump's Twitter Blocking in Court

Today in rampaging authoritarianism: The Department of Justice, which doesn't have anything better to do like hold the president accountable for being a traitor who obstructs justice like it's the national pastime, argued in court yesterday that Donald Trump blocking people on Twitter isn't a violation of the First Amendment rights of the people he blocks, because — get this! — he tweets in a professional capacity but blocks in a personal capacity.

That is their for real argument. I couldn't even make this trash up.

Erica Orden at CNN reports:
Before a three-judge panel in Manhattan federal court, the Justice Department argued that Trump wasn't "wielding the power" of the federal government when he blocked certain individuals from his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, because while the President sends tweets in his official capacity, he blocks users as a personal matter.

But an attorney for the Knight First Amendment Institute — which, along with seven individuals who have been blocked by the President on Twitter, sued Trump last year — said the President's actions were taken in his official government capacity.

Though conceding that Trump had launched the account before he took office, the attorney, Jameel Jaffer, said Trump "began using it as President as an extension of his office."

Though the panel didn't rule on the matter, the judges appeared to question the Justice Department's argument. If Trump blocked people in his personal capacity, "it is curious to me that the Justice Department is here representing him," Judge Peter Hall said in response to the government's attorney, Jennifer Utrecht.

"Your very presence here represents that this" — an apparent reference to Twitter — "is a public forum," Hall added.
Excellent point! Naturally the DoJ attorney retorted that they were there "because Trump had been sued in his official capacity." Except if the argument is that he's blocking people in a personal capacity, then the president should have had his personal attorney making his defense. And 'round and 'round we could go!

It should be pretty clear that the president cannot claim to be using his platform in a "personal" capacity. That's one of the distinctions you give up when you decide to be President of the United States. You are the head of state, the head of government, and the commander-in-chief, and you are no longer a private citizen the end.

But Trump continues to push boundaries in ways that facilitate his authoritarianism. Let us fervently hope that the courts do not abet this hostile assault on the citizenry.

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