Columbia University’s “Knight Institute” is suing the Trump administration on behalf of seven individuals alleging the president “blocked” them from reading his Twitter feed.
The lawsuit, filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that due to Mr. Trump’s usage of his personal Twitter account to engage with the public, his @realdonaldtrump Twitter account is a “public forum,” blocking citizens of access is “unconstitutional,” and his personal Twitter account should be treated as a public forum under federal law.
The suit seeks an immediate injunction requiring Mr. Trump to unblock the seven individuals and to allow unfettered access to his Twitter feed regardless of a person’s viewpoint. The lawsuit additionally requests to be compensated for attorney’s fees.
Columbia’s newly founded institute is a “First Amendment” group, funded by the university, and is packing $60 million in influence. Its primary function thus far has been suing the president and his administration.
Knight’s first lawsuit was filed in March of this year, and sued the Trump administration for failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request within the required 10-day window.
Additional lawsuits against the Trump administration followed, including one demanding the White House release its visitor logs, and another demanding more transparency from the Department of Justice.
According to Campus Reform, the Knight Foundation was co-founded by Columbia and is hosted on campus, however, it offers no programming for students, will host no events for students this year, and does nothing to educate students about the First Amendment.
The Knight Institute is also a “nonpartisan organization,” and claims that since the First Amendment applies to the government, not private actors, it is reasonable that most of their litigation would be filed against the government.
However, detractors say the institute came on the heels of President Trump’s move into the White House and, like most elitist universities, Columbia University receives donations from many special interest groups pushing their own agendas.