The Justice Department asked a federal court of appeals on Friday to reconsider a case where President Donald Trump was told he couldn’t legally block Twitter users from seeing his tweets.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet said if it would rehear the case. The request comes following a three-judge appellate panel having decided in July that Trump blocking users on Twitter from following or interacting with his account handle @realDonaldTrump was unconstitutional.
The Justice Department, which has represented Trump in the lawsuit, called the matter one of “exceptional importance.” The department maintains that Trump’s Twitter account is his personal account and will remain his handle after he leaves office.
“The importance of en banc review here is underscored because the panel’s novel and mistaken First Amendment reasoning is being applied not just to any public official, but to the President of United States,” the department wrote in Friday’s petition. “Accordingly, en banc rehearing should be granted.”
The appeals court previously ruled that the handle is a public forum because it is sometimes controlled by government officials or used for official government business.
The court found that Trump “engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit certain users’ access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech.”
“We hold that he engaged in such discrimination,” the ruling adds.
The challenge to Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter in office came from seven individuals he blocked, as well as the Knight First Amendment Institute, which argued that the President’s personal account is an extension of his office.
The appeals court’s ruling upheld a New York judge’s decision from last year that Trump was in violation of the Constitution when he blocked users on Twitter.
US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling that “no government official — including the President — is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared.”