Trump's Twitter Practices Unconstitutional: New Media, First Amendment Expert Weighs In2018-05-24
On Wednesday, a federal judge declared that President Trump's practice of blocking critics from his Twitter account is unconstitutional.
The ruling was reached after several plaintiffs accused the president of violating their First Amendment rights by blocking their access to his Twitter feed. The plaintiffs argued they’d been blocked specifically because of their critical viewpoints. Trump’s 9-year-old @realdonaldtrump account has more than 50 million followers.
"Yesterday’s ruling is important because it gives people freedom to consume the opinions of public figures on social media platforms. This is the same right individuals have with any other public forum such as newsprint and broadcast media," said Mia Moody- Ramirez, Ph.D., professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University.
Moody-Ramirez is a nationally recognized expert in topics of new media, race, class and culture. She studies the media framing of various issues, including people of color, women and political candidates. Her book "From Blackface to Black Twitter: Critical Reflections on Black Humor, Gender, Race & Politics" will be available this summer.
"Justice Department lawyers argued that it was Trump’s choice and blocking individuals should be no different from the president deciding in a room who not to listen/talk to. However, the ruling distinguishes Trump’s Twitter account — which, like public parks, is under government control. In public forums, the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, regardless of a person’s viewpoint," Moody Ramirez explained.
"Worth noting," she said, "is this ruling will not affect ordinary Twitter users who can block and follow other Twitter users. President Trump’s account @realdonaldtrump is a space operated by the government for government business, and therefore, cannot limit speech based on an individual’s viewpoints."
Moody-Ramirez is the author of several books, including:
* "From Blackface to Black Twitter: Critical Reflections on Black Humor, Gender, Race & Politics" (Peter Lang), summer 2018
* "The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion, and Politics" (Palgrave Macmillan) with Dr. Jannette Dates, 2013
* "Black and Mainstream Press’ Framing of Racial Profiling: A Historical Perspective" (University Press of America), 2009
She is available to speak to reporters.