President Trump will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that his Twitter account is a public forum that he cannot block users from accessing, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Monday.
The move had been expected after the administration had said last month it disagreed with the ruling by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who ordered Mr. Trump and his social media guru, Daniel Scavino, to stop blocking people from @realDonaldTrump.
Mr. Trump followed her orders Monday and did unblock all of the people who’s sued — but he also announced the appeal, which presumably would allow him to re-block those people should he win.
“Notice is hereby given that defendants Donald J. Trump and Daniel Scavino, sued in their official capacities, hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit,” the Justice Department said.
Mr. Trump contends that the account, which he held for years before bringing it into the White House with him, remains a private account, and he should be free to curate those who are allowed to comment on his tweets.
But Judge Buchwald, a Clinton appointee, ruled that because Mr. Trump makes public policy pronouncements from the account, and because Mr. Scavino is a government employee who also works on the account, it is a government-run account.
That, she said, makes it a public forum equivalent to a town square, and the president cannot exclude people from it because he doesn’t like what they say.
“The blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the @realDonaldTrump account because of their expressed political views violates the First Amendment,” the judge wrote in her May 23 ruling.
Among those blocked was Brandon Neely, a former guard at Guantanamo Bay who’s now an outspoken advocate for shutting down the detention facility. He was blocked nearly a year ago, but said on Twitter Monday he was back.
“Trump finally obeys court order and unblocks me,” he wrote.
“Was that really so difficult?” asked Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which represented the blocked Twitter users who sued Mr. Trump.