Donald Trump is asking the Supreme Court to let him to block people from his personal Twitter account.
His administration argued in a high-court filing made on Thursday that the president’s @realdonaldtrump page is his personal property.
It claims blocking people from the account – which has more than 85 million followers – is akin to elected officials who refuse to allow their opponents’ yard signs on their front lawns.
“President Trump’s ability to use the features of his personal Twitter account, including the blocking function, are independent of his presidential office,” acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall insisted in the filing.
The federal appeals court in New York had ruled last year that Mr Trump uses the account to make daily pronouncements and observations that are overwhelmingly official in nature.
It said he violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint.
The filing came on the same day a judge cleared the path for eight years of his tax records to be released after ruling against the president, and as his former strategist Steve Bannon was charged with fraud.
A decision about whether to even hear the case is unlikely to be made before the November election.
The case arose from a challenge brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which sued on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Mr Trump after criticizing his policies.
Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director, said the Supreme Court justices should refuse to listen to the appeal.
“This case stands for a principle that is fundamental to our democracy and basically synonymous with the First Amendment: government officials can’t exclude people from public forums simply because they disagree with their political views,” he said in a statement.
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The Trump administration argued in its appeal that the Supreme Court, not lower courts, “should decide where to draw the line between the president’s personal decisions and official conduct”.
The case was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic along with the president’s decision to ask the full 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling by a three-judge panel.
The court refused to do so by a 7-2 vote in March – with its two Trump appointees, Judges Michael H Park and Richard J Sullivan, the only members to side with the president.
The Supreme Court extended its deadline to file an appeal from 90 days to 150 days when the COVID-19 outbreak caused it to close the building to the public and replace in-person meetings with telephone conferences.