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.


Ezra Levant, founder of Rebel News, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to describe the shocking footage he and his team captured of Canadian police harassing and even arresting Rebel News reporters during a protest in Montreal.

Video clips show officers making remarks about the "Jew" reporters and calling Rebel News "Jew media." Reporters are pulled out of crowds, handcuffed, slammed against vehicles and arrested. Some have been fined "thousands and thousands" of dollars "because they had cameras pointed at the police," said Levant.

Another video clip shows Canadian police demanding entrance to a rented Airbnb houseboat without a warrant.

"They the claimed it was an illegal gathering. It was just a B and B," Levant explained. "I told them to get a warrant. I went out there ... and they wouldn't let me back in.... It turned into a ten-hour standoff. They couldn't find a judge willing to give them a search warrant, so to punish us, they called the whole thing a crime scene. They actually wouldn't let any of my team off the boat unless they submitted to a personal search, which is illegal. And the craziest part, is that they arrested one of my guys, took him to jail, and they said this to us: We will hold him in jail until you let us search the Airbnb without a warrant."

Levant said nearly all Canadian media have ignored the insane attacks, warrantless searches and seizures, and the jailing of journalists, and warned Americans to take note and protect our First Amendment rights.

"If you do not protect your First Amendment, if you do not hold those hard-won freedoms, you will be like what we are," he said. "This is your future if you don't protect your First Amendment."

Watch the video below for more details:

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On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.