Could The Presidential Text Message Alert System Violate The First Amendment? Lawsuit Says Yes

Cell phone
A test text message of the Presidential Alert, National Wireless Emergency Alert System is seen on a mobile phone in New York City, New York, U.S. October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Three people fought back against the first-ever national presidential text message alert system in the hopes of stopping a scheduled system test that went into effect yesterday afternoon.

The plaintiffs, suing President Trump and a FEMA administrator in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, argued that the alert system violates their First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to be “free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices.”

A judge denied their motion just hours before the alert was sent.

Unlike mobile alerts sent by other systems run by FEMA, the presidential alerts are mandatory so cell phone users can not opt out of receiving them.

“The Presidential Alert system is…tantamount to hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a Government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American,” the plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit.

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