No, Trump isn’t violating the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter

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A federal appeals court in New York will hear arguments on March 26 in a free speech lawsuit alleging that President Trump is violating the First Amendment by blocking his critics on Twitter. But while protecting true free speech is important, the president doesn't have any constitutional obligation to listen to criticism—so ultimately, this lawsuit is baseless.

This all started back in 2017. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—a free speech organization—filed a First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of seven people who were blocked from Trump's Twitter account. The lawsuit argued that the president has used his Twitter account on numerous occasions to announce official statements, making it a "public forum" in their view. Because the president used his account in an official capacity, he cannot constitutionally bar citizens from viewing or interacting with them, or so they say.

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This is a misguided argument, but a federal judge bought into it anyway. A 2018 ruling from federal judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found that Trump acted unconstitutionally when he blocked some of his critics on the social media site he spends a lot of time on. Buchwald classified Twitter as a "public forum" in her ruling, and argued the president had no right to block his critics in the online space.

Adding weight to Buchwald's interpretation of the First Amendment is a January 2018 ruling against a local government official in Virginia. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia determined that government officials cannot block their constituents on social media. Phyllis J. Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, deleted a critical comment from a constituent on her Facebook page and temporarily blocked the man from accessing it. A judge ruled that she ran afoul of the First Amendment by deleting the comment and by preventing access to her Facebook page based on the man's views.

Randall's Facebook page and Trump's Twitter account amounted to a digital town hall, therefore they were on weak constitutional footing when they supposedly closed the doors on their critics. This sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment, but it's fundamentally flawed.

If the court rules in favor of these disgruntled Twitter users then it will set a problematic precedent for how government officials, from the president to a county commissioner, can use social media.

For one, there is a major difference between blocking someone on Twitter and deleting a comment on Facebook. Even if Trump blocks someone on Twitter, they are still able to tweet about the president to their heart's content. And deleting a comment on a Facebook page prevents everyone from seeing it, not just the intended target of the critical message. If the president found some way to delete critics' tweets then there would certainly be a First Amendment issue, but preventing someone from engaging with his account isn't violating their freedom of speech. The plaintiffs in the Knight First Amendment Institute lawsuit are still free to tweet their criticism of the president, but they have no constitutional right to make him engage with them or hear them out.

Randall very well may have erred by preventing her constituent from participating on her Facebook page, but that's not the same thing as Trump blocking his critics. Even with a block Trump critics are still able to tweet and engage on Twitter, just without their tweeting popping up on the president's screen. One may argue that with a block they can't see his tweets, but that isn't true. If the critics who are blocked just sign out of their accounts then they can go to his account to see his tweets without issue, as Trump's Twitter page is not privacy protected.

If the court rules in favor of these disgruntled Twitter users then it will set a problematic precedent for how government officials, from the president to a county commissioner, can use social media. While the First Amendment guarantees the right to speak freely without fear of government censorship, it does not hold that anyone, even the government, must listen. A government official isn't obligated to hold a town hall to listen to the concerns of constituents, even if it's in the best interest of transparency and the public trust. The government should be more open and responsive to the public's concerns. That doesn't mean people should have unfettered access to a government officials' ear, even if it belongs to the president.

Lindsay Marchello is an associate editor with The Carolina Journal and a contributor with Young Voices. Follow her on Twitter at @LynnMarch007.


Fox News host Greg Gutfeld joined Glenn on "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week to talk about his new book, "The Plus: Self-Help for People Who Hate Self-Help."

Greg admits he is probably the last person who should write a self-help book. Nevertheless, he offers his offbeat advice on how to save America during what has become one of the most tumultuous times in history, as well as drinking while tweeting (spoiler: don't do it).

He also shares his "evolution" on President Donald Trump, his prediction for the election, and what it means to be an agnostic-atheist.

In this clip, Greg shares what he calls his "first great epiphany" on how dangerous cancel culture has become.

"I believe that cancel culture is the first successful work-around of the First Amendment," he said. "Because freedom of speech doesn't protect me from my career being ruined, my livelihood being destroyed, or me getting so depressed I commit suicide. Cancel culture is the first successful work-around of freedom of speech. It can oppress your speech with the scepter of destruction. We don't have freedom of speech anymore."

Watch the video clip below or find the full Glenn Beck Podcast with Greg Gutfeld here.

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Dr. Simone Gold joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to set the record straight about hydroxychloroquine -- what it is, how it works, and the real reason for all the current controversy surrounding a centuries-old medication.

Dr. Gold is a board certified emergency physician. She graduated from Chicago Medical School before attending Stanford University Law School. She completed her residency in emergency medicine at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, and worked in Washington D.C. for the Surgeon General, as well for the chairman of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources. She works as an emergency physician on the front lines, whether or not there is a pandemic, and her clinical work serves all Americans from urban inner city to suburban and the Native American population. Her legal practice focuses on policy issues relating to law and medicine.

She is also the founder of America's frontline doctors, a group of doctors who have been under attack this week for speaking out about hydroxychloroquine during a news conference held outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.

On the program, Dr. Gold emphasized that the controversy over hydroxychloroquine is a "complete myth."

"Hydroxychloroquine is an analogue or a derivative of quinine, which is found in tree bark. It's the most noncontroversial of medications that there is," she explained.

"It's been around for centuries and it's been FDA-approved in the modern version, called hydroxychloroquine, for 65 years. In all of that time, [doctors] used it for breast-feeding women, pregnant women, elderly, children, and immune compromised. The typical use is for years or even decades because we give it mostly to RA, rheumatoid arthritis patients and lupus patients who need to be on it, essentially, all of their life. So, we have extensive experience with it ... it's one of the most commonly used medications throughout the world."

Dr. Gold told Glenn she was surprised when the media suddenly "vomited all over hydroxychloroquine", but initially chalked it up to the left's predictable hatred for anything President Donald Trump endorses. However, when the media gave the drug Remdesivir glowing reviews, despite disappointing clinical trial results, she decided to do some research.

"[Remdesivir] certainly wasn't a fabulous drug, but the media coverage was all about how fabulous it was. At that moment, I thought that was really weird. Because it's one thing to hate hydroxychloroquine because the president [endorsed] it. But it's another thing to give a free pass to another medicine that doesn't seem that great. I thought that was really weird, so I started looking into it. And let me tell you, what I discovered was absolutely shocking," she said.

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According to the mainstream media's COVID-19 narrative, the president is "ignoring" the crisis.

On tonight's "Glenn TV" special, Glenn Beck exposes the media's last four months of political theater that has helped shape America's confusion and fear over coronavirus. And now, with a new school year looming on the horizon, the ongoing hysteria has enormous ramifications for our children, but the media is working overtime to paint the Trump administration as anti-science Neanderthals who want to send children and teachers off to die by reopening schools.

Glenn fights back with the facts and interviews the medical doctor Big Tech fears the most. Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America's Frontline Doctors, stands up to the media's smear campaign and explains why she could no longer stay silent in her fight against coronavirus fear.

Watch a preview below:


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It's high time to leave the partisan politics behind and focus on the facts about face masks and whether or not they really work against COVID-19.

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn Beck spoke with Drs. Scott Jensen and George Rutherford about the scientific evidence that proves or disproves the effectiveness of mask wearing to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Then, Dr. Karyln Borysenko joined to break down where the massive political divide over masks came from in the first place.

"I think if we were to talk about this a couple months ago, I might have said, 'Well, there's the science of masks, and there's the emotions of masks.' But, unfortunately, there's something in between," Jensen said. "I would have thought that the science of masks would have to do with the physics of masks, so I did a video a couple months ago where I talked about the pore side of a cotton mask or a surgical mask."

He explained that properly worn masks can help reduce the spread of virus particles, but cautioned against a false-sense of security when wearing a mask because they are far from providing complete protection.

"If you have a triple-ply mask, the pore size will end up being effectively five microns. And five microns, to a COVID-19 virus particle, is 50 times larger. That's approximately the same differential between the two-inch separation between the wires of a chain-link fence, and a gnat," Jensen explained.

"But now what we're seeing is if we have some collision of COVID-19 viral particles with the latticework of any mask ... if you're breathing out or breathing in and the viral particles collide with the actual latticework of a mask, I think intuitively, yes, we can reduce the amount of virus particles that are going back and forth."

Dr. Rutherford said masks are essential tools for fighting COVID-19, as long as you wear them correctly. He laid out the three main reasons he believes we should all be wearing masks.

"So, we're trying to do three things," he said. "First of all, we're trying to protect the people around you, in case you are one of the 60% of people who have asymptomatic infection and don't know it. The second thing we're trying to do is to protect you. The third thing we're trying to do is, if you get infected, you'll get infected at a lower dose, and then you're less likely to develop symptoms. That's the threefer."

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