- A court ruled that President Donald Trump violates the First Amendment when blocking Twitter users because doing so prevents people from seeing official policy-related information and engaging in public conversation.
- Even though the ruling has been issued, people who have been blocked by Trump do not believe that they will be unblocked.
- Trump is also not the only politician under fire for blocking individuals.
- After Tuesday’s court ruling, two people filed lawsuits against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for blocking them as well.
Appeals Court Backs Ruling
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that President Donald Trump cannot block users on Twitter as it is a violation of the First Amendment.
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling backs a decision made by a judge in 2018.
In their opinion, the court wrote that Trump “engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter’s ‘blocking’ function to limit certain users’ access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech.”
“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” the ruling added.
The case was brought forward by The Knight First Amendment Institute, an organization that fights for free speech and press in digital space. They filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven people who had been blocked by Trump after they criticized him in replies to his tweets.
Justice Department lawyers defending Trump said that because this is his personal Twitter account, blocking users does not violate the First Amendment. However, the ruling noted that Twitter has been one of the president’s main tools of communication and has been used for official purposes.
The Knight Institute’s Executive Director, Jameel Jaffer, issued a statement after Tuesday’s ruling explaining that blocking prevents people from engaging in public dialogue.
“Public officials’ social media accounts are now among the most significant forums for discussion of government policy,” Jaffer said. “This decision will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints, and that public officials aren’t insulated from their constituents’ criticism.”
The seven people involved in the lawsuit have since been unblocked.
Blocked Users React
Now others who have been blocked by Trump are responding to the news. Model Chrissy Teigen, who has been blocked by Trump since 2017, questioned if he would actually unblock her.
Author Molly Jong-Fast, who has also been blocked by the president, also expressed doubts about Trump abiding by the ruling.
“I promise you I will never be unblocked because the reality is, even if they say Trump has to do it, when has something being illegal ever stopped him?” she told Vox. “It seems like such a dumb thing to care about, but it’s a larger metaphor for his larger lack of interest in the actual law.”
Lawsuits Filed Against AOC
Trump is also not the only politician under fire for hitting the block button. On Tuesday, two lawsuits were filed against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) by users who had been blocked.
One was filed by former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. He tweeted about his case and said that if Trump can’t block people, why would she “think she can get away with silencing her critics?”
The controversial prank YouTuber Joey “Salads” Saladino, who is now running for Congress in New York, also filed a suit against Ocasio-Cortez. He tweeted a picture of the documents and asked, “will the standards apply equally?”
See what others are saying: (Vox) (Los Angeles Times) (The Hill)
Video of Man Punching Woman’s Reclined Airplane Seat Sparks Debate
- When a woman on an American Airlines flight reclined her seat, the man behind her responded by repeatedly punching the back of it.
- After a flight attendant was called to help, she allegedly sided with the man and offered him a free cocktail.
- The woman, Wendi Williams, took to social media to share her side of the story and express her frustration. The video she posted of the incident has since gone viral.
- Some have admonished Williams for reclining her seat in such tight quarters, while others have publicly condemned the man for his behavior.
Tensions Rise in the Sky
An airplane passenger went public with her story of a man punching the back of her seat when she reclined it during a flight, and the Internet has had a lot to say on the matter.
Wendi Williams took an American Airlines plane from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 31 — a flight that lasts around two hours. The man behind her couldn’t recline his own seat, as he was sitting in the last row of the plane. Williams said he asked her to put her seat up because he was eating, which she says she did. Then when he was finished she reclined it again. That’s when the trouble started — the man responded by hitting the back of William’s seat.
Williams began recording the punches and even called a flight attendant for help, but the employee allegedly brushed her off. Instead of reprimanding the man in the last row, Williams claimed the flight attendant offered him a cocktail and told Williams to delete the footage.
“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘What?’” Williams tweeted. “She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum!”
Williams has been posting about the incident to her Twitter page over the last week, calling the man’s actions an “assault.” She said that prior to the start of her video, in behavior not caught on camera, the man’s aggression was worse.
American Airlines responded to Williams directly on Twitter, asking her to direct message them with her contact information. Williams replied that she had reached out to them multiple times. Several hours later, she reported on Twitter that she had talked to an American Air representative but felt as if an adequate apology wasn’t given for their flight attendant’s actions. Williams threatened to “press charges” in the wake of her dissatisfaction.
In a statement, American Airlines said it was looking into what happened.
“The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said.
Williams also said that the man’s punches have caused her physical pain, and revealed that she has pre-existing back issues. She wrote that since the plane ordeal, she has “lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have [had] horrible headaches for a week.”
The debacle caught widespread attention and the video of part of the incident went viral, bringing in many mixed reactions.
After it was revealed that Williams was sitting in coach, some thought she shouldn’t have reclined her seat with such little room.
“Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far…” one person wrote. “Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.”
Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far. My issues have been with people playing those seatback touchscreen games. Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.— Vern Blanston (@VernBlanston) February 9, 2020
I’m 6ft 5 and cant stand inconsiderate people putting their seats back, being the size I am I still wont recline due to having courtesy for others. If it was me you wouldn’t have got your seat back so count yourself lucky this guy let you 😂— Boondocksaint 88 (@88Boondocksaint) February 8, 2020
While some did admonish the man for punching Williams, they still thought she was in wrong as well for reclining her seat.
“I’m calling a double technical,” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t recline. Especially into the poor sap in the last row of the plane which doesn’t recline AND is adjacent to the lav. But, also… don’t punch someone’s seat, dude.”
Others defended the woman, arguing that she has a right to recline her seat, especially because it was designed with that feature. There was also widespread criticism of the man for taking the approach that he did.
Things you are allowed to do on a plane: recline your seat.— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) February 13, 2020
Things you are not allowed to do in a polite society: punch someone’s seat.
Simple as that.
I hate flying. I take up too much space and it sucks when someone reclines into me but…they are allowed to do that!
How is this a debate. I’m 6’3” and often stuck in uncomfortable seats on a plane with the person reclined in front of me. But if I sat there punching the chair in front of me, I would expect a swift punch in the face back at some point. This is some entitled bullshit.— Usman Ally (@UsmanAlly) February 14, 2020
And some Twitter users even pointed to the gender dynamic, arguing the situation was extra problematic because it was a man punching the seat of a woman and a power imbalance.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (Fox News) (KRQE Media)
Chicago High Schoolers Stage Sit-In After Teacher Allegedly Tells Student ‘Go Back to Your Country’
- When a Latina student at Senn High School in Chicago refused to stand during the national anthem, her teacher allegedly said, “go back to your country.”
- Students complained to the principal but felt there wasn’t enough being done, so they staged a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
- Chicago Public Schools said they are investigating the teacher’s alleged comments and support students who are peacefully raising concerns.
- The teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.
Claims of Racism
Chicago high school students held a sit-in on Wednesday after a teacher allegedly told a Latina student “go back to your country” when she refused to stand for the national anthem last month.
When Senn High School held a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar and several other senior students remained seated for the national anthem. It was an act of silent protest against police brutality, U.S. immigration policies, and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
According to the students, two teachers approached them and asked one if she was eligible for free or reduced lunch. When she responded that she was, the teacher told her that she should stand because people had died for this country. The student left the auditorium.
The teacher then turned to Salazar, asking her if her legs were broken. She told him no and started to explain her reasons for sitting.
“Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: ‘Go back to your country.'” Salazar told NBC News.
Salazar, who is a U.S. citizen, was hurt by the remark.
“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be a part of this country,” Salazar told The Chicago Sun-Times.
The group of seniors complained about the incident to their principal, Mary Beck, but felt like the school’s response had been too slow. They held Wednesday’s sit-in, along with other students, to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
In several videos that have circulated on social media, students can be heard chanting, “we want justice, we want peace.”
Another video shows Beck addressing the students.
“I notified CPS. I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing, it is all time-stamped,” she said. “I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place.”
She is then interrupted as students start yelling, “So why is he still here?” referring to the teacher. Beck also receives some boos from the crowd.
This was not the only drama that unfolded during the sit-in. Chicago police reported that a 15-year-old student was arrested during the demonstration. She and another student began fighting, police said, and when a 55-year-old staff member tried to break it up, she pushed him to the ground.
Chicago Public Schools said they have launched an investigation into the teacher’s alleged national anthem comments, and spokesperson James Gherardi said they support students who are peacefully voiced their concern.
“CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district,” Gherardi said.
According to Block Club Chicago, the teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.
See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Time) (Chicago Sun-Times)
Should Freedom of Religion Protect Humanitarians Giving Food & Water to Migrants At The Border?
The U.S. federal government said that Humanitarians from the religious immigration reform group No More Deaths broke the law when they trespassed on a wildlife reserve to leave water for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Eventually, nearly all charges were reversed due to the religious freedom restoration act. The law says that even in circumstances where a law doesn’t mention religion, it can still violate peoples’ religious liberties, which was the case for No More Deaths. Check out this week’s video to learn more about who ruled in favor of the humanitarians and why their religious liberties were being violated according to one judge’s ruling.