A day before Joe Biden's inauguration, the Justice Department under Donald Trump made a last-minute effort to undo a major court decision related to public official's social media accounts.
Though politicians and journalists need one another, their interactions are by nature often adversarial. A key part of a reporter’s job is to look beyond the story public officials want to tell and to ask uncomfortable questions. But when officials believe reporters go too far, can they ban them from attending future gatherings? And what First Amendment or other rights protect reporters from such actions?
On September 18th, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia issued a formal apology after a local resident was blocked from commenting during a City Council meeting on Zoom. On May 18th, Charlottesville resident Tanesha Hudson criticized the way Council members were dealing with City Manager Tarron Richardson, who she alleges they were plotting to fire.
The newspaper sued the university after the student government passed a bill excluding media student groups from accessing activity funds. The legislation was passed just days after the paper published a controversial article satirizing safe spaces.
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration petitioned SCOTUS to review a ruling preventing him from blocking critics from his Twitter account. Knight Attorney Meenakshi Krishnan talks about why his arguments are likely to fail should the Supreme Court decide to take the case.
As in previous cases, the president's lawyers insist that the president's personal account is private and he should be allowed to exclude critics freely. They also emphasized that the act of blocking was not a kind of state action because it did not involve government power.
The lawsuit says that the President continues to exclude users who were blocked before his inaguration or cannot specify the tweet that provoked the block. According to the complaint, the President’s staff told the Knight Institute as recently as July 20nd that the President “does not intend to unblock persons who were blocked prior to his inauguration or who cannot identify a tweet that proceeded and allegedly precipitated the blocking.”
While the White House had a legitimate interest in maintaining a degree of control over media access to the White House, U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel wrote that the administration could not do so in a way that interfered with a reporter’s due process rights.