By Matt Rooney
President Trump shouldn’t have blocked certain Twitter followers.
That’s what U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald ruled on Wednesday, Save Jerseyans; she believes the 45th President of the United States violated citizens’ First Amendment rights when the President blocked them over “political” disagreements (it’s called “viewpoint discrimination”) because, significantly, Judge Buchwald says aspects of his Twitter account constitute a “public forum.”
It’s a very interesting outcome for a host of reasons.
On my end? I’m a little familiar with being blocked by public officials, but none of them are named “Trump”:
That’s right! As regular Save Jersey readers know, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-Twitter) blocked my personal handle (@MattRooneyNJ) on Twitter.
What does yesterday mean for me? As a constituent of America’s most vapid federal legislator? Well, decisions of a United States federal district court (the trial level of the federal judicial system) do not bind federal courts outside of that particular district, and Judge Buchwald’s decision does NOT specifically order the President to unblock anyone anyway, so this particular ruling isn’t likely to compel Cory Booker to man up (sorry for being gender normative there!) and unblock me.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t inevitable.
Like @realDonaldTrump, Cory Booker is a government official who has created a public forum at @CoryBooker. His Twitter bio identifies himself as U.S. Senator (he follows @SaveJersey, oddly enough, so I can see it), he regularly tweets about public policy concerns (net neutrality, the special counsel investigation, gun control, etc), and a constituent (like me) would expect to be able to interact with his or her federal representative by replying to those tweets.
At least one prominent N.J. Democrat knows which way the wind is blowing:
I’ve officially unblocked anyone that was ever blocked from seeing my social media accounts – Anti-semites, racists, trolls, fake accounts, former family members, ppl that hate Jersey City – all are welcome now. I may not like u personally but the law is the law. @realDonaldTrump
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) May 24, 2018
Just last month, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, a Republican, settled a federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for blocking 400+ people on Facebook; the state had to pay out $65,000 plus legal fees.
Stay tuned while I wait, patiently, for my phone call from the ACLU.