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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

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.

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