Mid-Day Digest

Jul. 10, 2019


“The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon … has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."—James Madison (1798)

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Court Favors Trump Twitter Trolls

"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 an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” declared Judge Barrington Parker in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against President Donald Trump for blocking critics from his Twitter account. The Second Circuit’s ruling upheld the decision of a district court.

This rather confusing ruling has opened the door for more lawsuits, as demonstrated by an almost immediate suit against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for her similar practice of blocking people from her Twitter account.

There are several issues here — some of which the court addressed and others it indicated it would intentionally avoid. The first and biggest was the question of First Amendment rights, specifically the free-speech rights of all Americans. The court noted that government officials are not allowed to prevent individuals’ access to publicly presented information, nor may public officials prevent private individuals from speaking freely on that information. Essentially, the court asserted that Twitter was a public forum because Trump was using it as such.

This, however, is the crux of the issue: Twitter is a private company that explicitly notes in its user agreement that it holds full authority over whatever content a user may place on its platform. Citing that user agreement, National Review’s David French observes, “There is no [Twitter user] ‘control’ at all, temporary or otherwise. … There is instead a public official using a private platform to attempt to amplify his specific message, with the permission of the entity that controls the platform. The court’s ruling, in this circumstance, represents government intervention in Twitter’s control of its own service. The court is overriding the permissions Twitter gave its own user.”

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey makes another cogent point about First Amendment rights: “It doesn’t necessarily follow that I’m forced to listen to [certain speech], either, nor are public officials. The First Amendment guarantees the right to speak, not a right to an audience.” Trump blocking critics on his Twitter account does not block them from Twitter itself, nor does it prevent them from seeing his posts. He is simply refusing to allow hecklers and trolls to post comments on his Twitter feed. Hecklers and trolls are removed from public speeches, too.

For the record, we have criticized Trump’s Twitter habits before, and, frankly, were he not such a troll on the platform, this case likely wouldn’t have made it to the courts in the first place.

Meanwhile, the court’s ruling brings into question the censoring practices that Twitter and other social-media platforms have increasingly engaged in. If Twitter serves merely as a public forum, then is not its censorship practice a violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights?

There is no word yet as to whether Trump will seek to appeal the ruling, as he has already been in compliance with the district court’s ruling. But keep an eye on his Twitter feed…

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Another Judicial Roadblock to Census Citizenship Question

The legal wrangling over the citizenship question on the 2020 census took another bizarre turn Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman ruled that the Justice Department cannot replace nine lawyers working on implementing the question so late in the game without sufficient explanation. With just three days remaining in the appeal process, Furman wrote, “Defendants provide no reasons, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel.” Furman is the same judge who initially blocked the question itself in January, so this is no surprise.

A brief refresher is in order. President Donald Trump called for a question asking about citizenship to be placed on the 2020 census. Given the constitutional mandate for a census in the first place, and the history of such questions having appeared, it seemed reasonable. Yet, the Associated Press reports, “Opponents of the question say it will depress participation by immigrants, lowering the population count in states that tend to vote Democratic and decreasing government funds to those areas because funding levels are based on population counts.”

This is not an inaccurate criticism but it is an illegitimate one. By that we mean, yes, a citizenship question could result in less representation for Democrats. But they don’t want foreign interference in elections, right? So why do they want our very system of representation skewed by noncitizens? The question is rhetorical, of course — they want to rig elections to guarantee leftist rule.

In any event, the charge of “racism” evidently held enough sway to persuade Chief Justice John Roberts to conclude that the process and motivation behind the question was wrong, even if the actual legality of the question itself was perfectly fine.

After the Supreme Court loss, the Trump administration eventually dropped the question only for Trump to reverse that decision. The constantly changing rationale from Trump and other members of the administration seems to be par for the course on this entire effort. “Nobody has any f—king idea” what Trump wants, one official told The Wall Street Journal. The lawyer change is likely an attempt to put other people in charge of arguing the case so as to negate the questions about motivation. But Furman isn’t going to allow it.

The bottom line is that the question is not only entirely legitimate but it should be asked. Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems to have handled the process so poorly that critics were able to persuade judges to block the whole thing.

Footnote: The Washington Times reports, “Two-thirds of voters approve of a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and that includes [55%] of Hispanic voters.”

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For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.


OBAMACARE DEATH BED? “Federal appeals judges in New Orleans are entertaining the idea of striking some or all of Obamacare, appearing uncertain during oral arguments Tuesday over whether Congress intended to toss the entire healthcare law. … The judges didn’t say when they would rule. Regardless of the outcome, the case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court and could be decided right around the 2020 elections.” (Washington Examiner)

REBATE REVAMP: “President Trump promised to reduce Americans’ pharmacy bills — and he’s delivering. His administration will soon finalize a rule that restructures the drug supply chain and ensure that tens of billions of dollars of hidden rebates and discounts flow to patients. The rule affects Medicare Part D, the federal prescription drug benefit for 45 million seniors and people with disabilities.” (InsideSources)

DIPLOMATIC MALFEASANCE: “The British ambassador to the U.S. who criticized President Trump has resigned, the U.K. Foreign Office said Wednesday. Ambassador Kim Darroch — in documents leaked in recent days — slammed the Trump administration as ‘diplomatically clumsy and inept,’ and said he doubted it would become ‘substantially more normal.’” (Fox News)

MOVING EVER-CLOSER TO AN OVERHAUL: “President Trump’s nomination of Washington, D.C., attorney Daniel Bress to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday on a party-line vote, giving Trump seven appointees to a court he has regularly denounced. … With Bress’ confirmation, the court will have 16 judges appointed by Democratic presidents, 12 by Republicans and one vacancy. Judges Carlos Bea and Jay Bybee … have announced plans to transfer to senior status with reduced caseloads … creating two more vacancies for Trump to fill.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

FOR THE RECORD: Seven facts about Obama’s immigration record leftists refuse to admit (PJ Media)

GUN-CONTROL AGENDA MISSES THE MARK: “Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election.” (Associated Press)

YOUR MOVE, CHINA: “The Trump administration is selling $2.2 billion worth of tanks and missiles to Taiwan but has delayed exports of new F-16s over budget shortfalls in Taipei.” (The Washington Free Beacon)

POLICY: The too-good-to-be-true way to fight the Chinese military (Bloomberg Opinion)

POLICY: How not asking about citizenship on the census gives Democrats more votes in Congress (The Federalist)

HUMOR: Democrat Party changes mind on border wall after realizing it will keep people from leaving when we switch to socialism (The Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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Walter Williams: “Christian Americans have been hounded for their refusal to cater same-sex weddings. For those who support such attacks, we might ask them whether they would seek prosecution of the owner of a Jewish delicatessen who refused to provide services for a neo-Nazi affair. Should a black catering company be forced to cater a Ku Klux Klan affair? Should the NAACP be forced to open its membership to racist skinheads? Should the Congressional Black Caucus be forced to open its membership to white members of Congress? The true test of a person’s commitment to freedom of association does not come when he permits people to associate in ways he finds acceptable. It comes when he permits people to voluntarily associate in ways he deems offensive. I am afraid that too many of my fellow Americans are hostile to the principles of liberty. Most people want liberty for themselves. I differ. I want liberty for me and liberty for my fellow man.”


For the record: “I find myself once again in the same position as President Obama. We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners.” —Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Friendly fire: “The party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far to the left. … I think at the end of the day, if a Democrat is going to beat Trump, then that person, he or she, will have to move to the center and you can’t wait too long to do that.” —Black Entertainment Television (BET) co-founder Robert Johnson

A blind squirrel finds a nut: “I think [Donald Trump] has a right to be upset if someone said that ‘I’m not going to the [f—ing] White House.’ He has the right to be upset. … If someone said that about me, I’m not sure I would invite them into the place I was living.” —CNN’s Don Lemon taking issue with U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe

Village Idiots: “Every teammate I’ve talked to specifically about it would not go. I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we’ve worked hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life. I don’t think we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration.” —Megan Rapinoe

Braying Jenny: “When the Trump administration threatened to pull out of the Iran deal and impose more sanctions last year, it was clear that we’d lose our leverage and Iran would be free to do what it wanted. Predictably, Iran is now exceeding enrichment limits the deal once imposed. … Diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection. It is the balancing of risk. So far, the administration has consciously chosen a dangerous path leading to a riskier future. But diplomacy is still the only way for the administration to climb out of the hole they’ve dug.” —Hillary Clinton

And last… “A young child does not understand the difference between reality and fantasy. If you inform a 4 year old that Spider Man isn’t real, he literally will not know what you mean. So if your young boy says he’s really a girl, the statement has no objective meaning whatsoever.” —Matt Walsh

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.



For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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