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KU Law professor explains Trump Twitter appeals court decision

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed a lower court ruling that President Donald Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter over statements he does not like.

“Largely because he announces government programs and initiatives via his Twitter page,” said Lumen “Lou” Mulligan,
the Director of the Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy at the University of Kansas. “The ruling was that his Twitter page is a public forum. I can imagine a different Twitter page where you’re not announcing government plans, you’re not using it to broadcast official announcements, a court might find that Twitter page not a public forum but a private platform.”

The First Amendment prohibits government discrimination against a person’s free speech based on their viewpoint.

“A private person can say, on my property, on my private property or my private Facebook page, I don’t have to allow other people to speak,” said Mulligan. “The government can’t kick people out of a park, because the government disagrees with their political point of view.”

The court said that Trump’s account was indeed private before he became president, but that changed once he took office and used it for official business.

“This strikes me as a relatively straightforward application of Supreme Court law,” said Mulligan. “The only thing at play
here was, was President Trump’s Twitter page a public forum.”

The court said that once Trump leaves office, his account will presumably revert to its private status. The Department of Justice may still appeal the decision.

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