May 23, 2018

Court rules Trump can't block people on Twitter

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.

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health