Is Trump’s Twitter Behavior Constitutional? A Court Will Decide.

By
Jameel Jaffer
March 06, 2018

When President Trump delivered an address in Krasinski Square in central Warsaw last summer, Poland’s nationalist government bused in supporters to swell the ranks of the crowd. There were protesters, but police managed to isolate most of them in side streets, invisible to Trump and most of the television cameras. When Trump declared that “America loves Poland, and America loves the Polish people,” the Polish people — or at least those permitted in the square — answered with rapturous applause.

We tend to associate political spectacles such as this with authoritarian regimes, and it was disquieting to see an American president playing a starring role in this one. A similar spectacle, though, has been unfolding continuously since Trump took office — on the president’s Twitter account.

Many of the president’s Twitter followers — millions of them, by some counts— are bots programmed to create the impression that Trump and his statements are more popular than they are. And while social-media dissenters aren’t penned in side streets, the president “blocks” some of his sharpest Twitter critics, disabling them from participating in the forum created by his account. This latter practice is a digital version of the same ugly censorship the president appeared to endorse in Warsaw, and its constitutionality will be the subject of a hearing in federal court on Thursday.