A professor at the University of Maryland, College Park is suing Donald Trump because the president blocked him on Twitter over the summer. Sociology professor Philip N. Cohen sees this as a violation of his First Amendment rights.
The tweet that started it all dates back to June 6 when Cohen posted a photo of the president, calling him “Corrupt Incompetent Authoritarian.” Under these words, it states “And then there are the policies. RESIST.”
Approximately 15 minutes after Cohen tweeted the image, President Trump blocked the professor from his personal Twitter account.
Cohen along with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York are now suing the President on the grounds that being blocked from the president’s Twitter account is demonstrative of their constitutional liberties being violated.
“I was shocked,” Professor Cohen, a former resident of Ithaca, NY, told the Cornell Daily Sun regarding the Twitter debacle.
“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.”
The Knight Institute published a statement in July on how their right to free speech was barricaded by Trump’s actions on the social media platform:
“Because of the way in which President Trump uses @realDonaldTrump, the account has become an important channel for news about the presidency and the U.S. government. Those who are blocked from the account are impeded in their ability to learn information that is shared only through that account.”
Cohen is not only suing President Trump, but also White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and White House Director of Social Media and assistant to the president Dan Scavino as well.
Attorneys from the Department of Justice, representing the four defendants, argued their case in a letter to federal court earlier this month.
“The decisions he makes in managing that account, like many of the personal decisions he makes as president, are not an exercise of power conferred on him by federal law,” the attorneys contended. “As such, they are not state action and not subject to First Amendment scrutiny.”
A response from the plaintiffs is due by November 3rd.