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Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Trump violated some of his critics’ First Amendment rights when he blocked them on Twitter, a federal judge ruled today, explaining Trump should have muted them instead.

The big picture: It’s unconstitutional for the government to discriminate against speech based on its content, and the court said that’s exactly what happened here — because Trump and his administration use @realDonaldTrump to carry out the duties of the president, and users were blocked because of their critical replies to Trump’s tweets.

The details: “The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President,” Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote.

  • She cited specific examples of Trump using his Twitter account to fire Cabinet officials and announce new public policy.
  • Citizens’ ability to reply to those announcements and participate in the ensuing conversation is protected by the First Amendment, Buchwald said.

Mute your haters: The Trump administration argued that Trump should be able to block people whose speech he doesn’t want to listen to. But he could mute them instead, which would preserve their ability to participate in the thread of replies that follow Trump’s tweets, Buchwald said.

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.

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