A University of Maryland sociology professor is suing President Donald Trump due to the chief exec blocking him on social media giant Twitter.
Philip N. Cohen said he was “shocked” upon seeing he was prohibited from viewing the president’s Twitter feed, despite the fact the block came after the prof’s tweet of “Corrupt Incompetent Authoritarian. And then there are the policies. RESIST.”
The Cornell Daily Sun reports Cohen and several others, including the Columbia University Knight First Amendment Institute, are suing Mr. Trump for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights — specifically because the president “has restricted them, because of their political beliefs, from participating in a public forum, accessing official statements and petitioning the government for redress of grievances.”
Cohen, whose parents were academics at Cornell, said it is “’surreal’ that Trump is personally blocking people ‘with his own fat little thumbs.’”
Cohen’s verified Twitter account, @familyunequal, has more than 10,000 followers, and he used to quickly reply to Trump’s tweets so that more people would see his responses, which often appeared immediately below the president’s postings.
“Nothing I’ve been able to do since gets as many viewers,” he said in the interview on Tuesday.
When Cohen’s friends comment on a Tweet from @realDonaldTrump, he can no longer see the president’s posting — only “Tweet not available.” He can get around the block by logging into a separate Twitter account, which the president has not blocked, but Cohen cannot respond to the president’s tweets from his primary account.
“I recognize I don’t have to climb Mount Everest to get around the [president’s] block, but it is inconvenient and I think [Trump and his staff are] making it a hassle for me because of my political views,” Cohen said.
All of the people who followed Cohen because they wanted to see his postings regarding the president and politics, he said, can no longer see Cohen’s responses to the president. “That’s just suppressing political speech, basically,” he said. …
The Justice Department filed a motion for summary judgement on Friday arguing that @realDonaldTrump is not a public forum and, instead, a private platform managed by a private company, Twitter. The plaintiffs’ response is due by Nov. 3.
The Knight Institute has asked the court to declare Trump’s blocking of users unconstitutional, compel him to unblock the plaintiffs and prohibit him from blocking anyone based on their beliefs.
It seems like Cohen — whose specialties are the “sociology of families, social demography, and social inequality” (especially gender and race/ethnic inequality) — is just miffed he can’t fling any further “clever” insults the president’s way.
Cohen concedes the lawsuit is “totally uncharted waters,” which is wise; after all, while Mr. Trump is a public servant, Twitter is a private entity, so it seems the plaintiffs’ hope rests with a judge agreeing with them that the president’s “publicness” somehow outweighs Twitter’s “privateness.”
But if that happens, what’s next — Trump having to take Cohen’s phone calls? Answer his emails? Not to mention, if the president loses and has to unblock everyone he’s blocked, will he be permitted to mute them?