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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Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.