The Trump administration on Friday asked a federal appeals court for a rehearing on its ruling last month that President Trump engaged in "viewpoint discriminating" by blocking certain Twitter followers from his account.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had ruled unanimously against the president July 9, concluding “The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
The First Amendment prohibits government discrimination against a person’s free speech based on their viewpoint. Trump claimed that his Twitter account is private, so the First Amendment should not apply.
Now the Justice Department has filed a motion seeking the entire en banc appeals court to rehear the case. The loser at this stage could then asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a final review.
A group of social media users, along with a press rights group had brought suit, after those users were blocked from accessing and interacting with the Twitter account of Trump because, the court concluded, “they expressed views he disliked.”
It was not immediately clear when oral arguments would be held in the new round of litigation.
According to the court documents in July, Trump admitted that he blocked the plaintiffs in the case in 2017 after they posted tweets that “criticized him or his policies.” Once they were blocked, they were no longer able to view Trump’s tweets while logged in, and no longer had access to reply to tweets or view comment threads on Trump’s Twitter page.
In its ruling, the 2nd Circuit panel said, “The government’s contention that the President’s use of the Account during his presidency is private founders in the face of the uncontested evidence in the record of substantial and pervasive government involvement with, and control over, the Account."
"First, the Account is presented by the President and the White House staff as belonging to, and operated by, the President," the ruling said. "The Account is registered to “Donald J. Trump, ‘45th President of the United States of 13 America, Washington, D.C.’”
“Since he took office, the President has consistently used the Account as an important tool of governance and executive outreach. For these reasons, we conclude that the factors pointing to the public, non‐private nature of the Account and its interactive features are overwhelming.”
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.