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The Trump administration Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court ruling that the president can't block critics on Twitter because doing so violates the First Amendment.

The big picture: Trump's use of Twitter has been a defining feature of his presidency, with his habit of often posting and retweeting inflammatory and misleading content. Despite the earlier ruling and Twitter becoming more willing to push back on his false tweets, Trump largely has free rein on the platform.

The other side: The Justice Department, arguing on behalf of the government, says in a brief that allowing the ruling to stand would jeopardize public officials' ability to insulate their social media accounts from harassment.

  • The DOJ briefing argues that Trump uses his personal account "in part to announce official actions and policies."
  • "It seems likely... that this decision will have the unintended consequence of creating less speech if the social-media pages of public officials are overrun with harassment, trolling, and hate speech, which officials will be powerless to filter," the brief reads.

Backstory: The Knight First Amendment Institute first filed the case in 2017 on behalf of seven people blocked by Trump. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in 2018 that Trump's Twitter account is a "public forum" under the First Amendment and he cannot block speakers engaging on it due to their viewpoints.

What they're saying: The Knight Institute argues the lower court decision should remain in place.

  • "Public officials across the country now use social media as their main means of communicating with their constituents," Katie Fallow, a senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, said. "Blocking people from these forums denies them access to important information and deprives them of the opportunity to engage with the officials who represent them."

Go deeper: Trump's unexpected 1st Amendment legacy

Go deeper

Pennsylvania GOP asks Supreme Court to halt mail-in ballot extension

Applications for mail-in ballots in Reading, Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Republicans in Pennsylvania on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a major state court ruling that extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to several days after the election, The Morning Call reports.

Why it matters: It's the first election-related test for the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. What the court decides could signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 33,396,784 — Total deaths: 1,002,628 — Total recoveries: 23,182,295Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 7,150,117 — Total deaths: 205,091 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Business: Companies are still holding back earnings guidance.
  4. Health: Trump announces plan to distribute 150 million rapid tests —The childless vaccine.
  5. Media: Fauci: Some of what Fox News reports about COVID-19 is "outlandish"
  6. States: Cuomo extends New York moratorium on evictions until 2021.
  7. World: More than 1 million people have now died from coronavirus — India the second country after U.S. to hit 6 million cases.