Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Judge suggests Trump mute -- not block -- his Twitter critics

Judge suggests Trump mute -- not block -- his Twitter critics

A federal court judge has heard from attorneys arguing over whether President Trump can legally block Twitter users from interacting with his tweets.

Buchwald told Trump's lawyers that if they didn't agree to this settlement, they might establish a new law that wouldn't make Trump very happy. "I don't think it's a ideal solution, but it's far less restrictive", Fallow said.

The White House did not return a request for comment but has said in the past that it does not comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Michael Baer agreed muting would enable Trump to avoid reading a tweet he doesn't want to read.

The seven Twitter users involved in the legal action say their accounts were blocked by the president, or his aides, after they replied to his tweets with mocking or critical comments.

The president is being sued for blocking people on his personal @realdonaldtrump Twitter account. Others following him, however, can see responses from muted users.

"I think that would be a great solution for me", Pappas said.

The president has blocked critics in the past, prompting impacted parties to launch a lawsuit claiming that he violated their free speech rights.

Judge suggests Trump mute -- not block -- his Twitter critics
Judge suggests Trump mute -- not block -- his Twitter critics

Buchwald appeared skeptical of that argument, noting that the Twitter blocks can affect users beyond just those who are blocked.

"It creates all these additional barriers", she said.

It can not be the case that any personal medium of communication created or maintained by public officials in their personal capacity is subject to an all-or-nothing state action analysis when that person later becomes an officer of the state. And if there's no deal reached, they would have to rely on a written decision from the judge, who warned that they might not like what she would decide.

Buchwald proposed several times that the parties could resolve the lawsuit if Trump used Twitter's "mute" feature.

"Isn't the answer he just mutes the person he finds personally offensive?" the judge asked, The Associated Press reported. In addition, blocking Twitter users theoretically prevents them from being able to access official government communications.

So if the president were to merely pretend that he was listening even though he wasn't, this could potentially satisfy both sides.

"Like with every case, there is always a risk you can lose", she said.

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