President Donald Trump has unblocked more of his Twitter critics on Tuesday after a federal judge ruled that he was violating the constitutional rights of those he blocked from following him.
US District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled last May that public officials are not allowed to block people from following them on Twitter in response to the political views the people have expressed.
The 7 people that filed the suit which led to the ruling got unblocked by the president in June. The Justice Department has said it was appealing.
Since then, Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sent the Justice Department a list of 41 Twitter accounts that are still blocked by Trump. According to Reuters, at least 20 of the 41 Twitter accounts were unblocked by the president on Tuesday. A law lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, Neil Makhija was among those unblocked by Trump on Tuesday.
According to the email statement from Neil Makhija, he says, “I got blocked because I twitted about President Trump’s push to take away health care from millions of Americans, especially those in Pennsylvania who are grappling with the worst of the opioid crisis.” “I am not happy I get to read @realDonaldTrump’s tweets, but I am happy that the rule of law still means something in the US and that we as citizens can drive the conversation towards the issues that matter.”
According to the White House reporter J.D Durkin tweet, the tweet reads, “NEW – important update to this thanks to @katieFallow and @knightcolumbia, I’ve been officially UNBLOCKED by @realDonaldTrump after 14 months… did I miss anything?”
Laura Packard was also unblocked on Tuesday, though she was not part of the lawsuit. “I was blocked by President Donald Trump last year while fighting for my health care. I was not a part of the lawsuit, because it was filed before I was blocked (in September of last year).”
Technologist Tom Coates was also unblocked by President Trump and recounted the whole saga in a thread.
Comedian Rosie O’Donnell on Tuesday writes on her Twitter handle that she was still blocked. Her name was not on the list of the Knight Institute, but the organization asked for anyone who wished to be unblocked to signify. So if you are yet to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, you can still do to get unblocked by the president.
Knight Columbia writes, “We are pleased to see the White House take steps to comply with the district court’s ruling that the First Amendment prohibits the president from blocking Twitter users simply because they have criticized him.”
“We will continue to work with the Justice Department to ensure the White House restores access to the @realDonaldTrump account to all individuals who were blocked on the basis of their viewpoints. We also look forward to defending the district’s ruling in the appeals court.”
In Buchwald ruling, she suggested that Trump could “mute” Twitter users without violating their free speech rights. When an account is muted by Trump, he would not see its tweets any more.