The seven plaintiffs who sued Donald Trump for blocking them on Twitter—and essentially won—have revealed that if the president still refuses to unblock them, they will escalate the case to protect their constitutional rights.
On Wednesday, a federal court judge ruled that Trump’s personal Twitter account, and those of other U.S. government officials, were public forums and that blocking critics for voicing their dissenting political views breached the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan stopped short of ordering the president to unblock users, saying instead “we must assume that the President and [White House Social Media Director Dan] Scavino will remedy the blocking we have held to be unconstitutional.” However, days after the ruling, the president still hasn’t unblocked his critics and the plaintiff’s aren’t happy.
Brandon Neely, a police officer in Texas and one of the seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told Newsweek on Friday that the group has discussed next steps with their lawyers and are prepared to go back to court.
One option could be getting an injunction, Neely said. Eugene Gu, another of the seven plaintiffs, suggested the courts could avoid direct confrontation with the president by ordering the Scavino to carry out the unblocking.
“We’re all willing to take this as far as it needs to go,” Neely said. “Because it’s not only just about Trump now but about setting a precedent for the future.”
He added: “[The president] is making policies on the fly on social media and we have the right as citizens to be able to look at it underneath our own accounts.”
Last year, White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced that Trump’s tweets from his personal account represents “official statements” from the president. Buchwald said in her ruling that “the President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account” and that Trump often uses his account “to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President.”
Gu and Neely both are pessimistic about whether that the president will follow the ruling and believe they must take matters into their own hands to try and ensure he does not continue to violate the constitution.
“I don’t think Trump will unblock me. He thinks the president is above the law and he can do whatever he wants,” Neely said. “[The seven of us] have all talked about it and we’re all in it for the long haul. We’ll take it to the supreme court if we have to.”
“Hopefully it doesn’t have to go that far, but with [Trump] you just don’t know.”
The Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University filed the lawsuit against Trump last July on behalf of seven people, including Gu and Neely, who were all blocked by the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account around the same time.
“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” Buchwald said in her ruling. “The answer to both questions is no.”
Trump blocked Neely last June after the police official commented on one of his tweets announcing that he is opening a coal mine in Pennsylvania. “Congrats and now black lung won’t be covered under #TrumpCare,” Neely wrote, before discovering hours later that he had been blocked.
The White House did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment about whether the president will comply with the ruling.