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Abstract

Today, protectable speech takes many forms in many spaces. This Note is about the spaces. This Note discusses whether President Donald J. Trump’s personal Twitter account functions as a public forum, and if so, whether blocking constituents from said account amounts to viewpoint discrimination—a First Amendment freedom of speech violation. Part I introduces the core legal devices and doctrines that have developed in freedom of speech jurisprudence relating to issues of public fora. Part II analyzes whether social media generally serves as public fora, whether the President’s personal Twitter account is a public forum, and whether his recent habit of blocking constituents from that account amounts to viewpoint discrimination. In doing so, Part II also addresses the applicability of the recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Davison v. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors—wherein a local county government official was held to have engaged in viewpoint discrimination for banning a constituent from her personal social media account—to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University’s pending case against the President for the same. Part III then suggests multiple approaches for courts to analyze these claims, while taking account of an analytical mismatch that occurs when trying to apply the Davison case to the case brought against the President.

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