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A federal court in New York has decided that President Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter. The court ruled that it was unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees every American the right to free speech. The ruling was delivered after seven people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter took the case to court. They argued that social media is the equivalent to a public forum and therefore government officials cannot be allowed to silence them. The judges agreed.

Attorneys representing President Trump argued that because he uses his personal account, the rules should not apply in the same way as if he was using an official account. The court ruled that any government official should be subjected to the rules, regardless of whether they are using a personal account or not. President Trump also uses his personal account in lieu of the official Presidential Twitter account, bolstering the argument that his account isn’t only for personal use.

Since the ruling, a number of people have been unblocked by President Trump’s account. However, there are many, including celebrities such as author Stephen King, that remain blocked by the President. The ruling has also caused other government officials to come under fire. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now being challenged in the courts because she has also blocked people on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress and has gained a large following in a short space of time. She has gained both praise and criticism for her use of Twitter which she often uses to call out opponents and even people within her own party. Supporters of Ocasio-Cortez have championed her as the future of the Democratic Party and as such, she has come under fire from Republicans.

The recent ruling will affect politicians and officials of all parties in the US, although the debate over whether or not social media is a public forum will no doubt continue.

Difficult words

Unconstitutional (adj): Not in accordance with the constitution.

Public Forum (n): A platform for people to speak their mind.

Attorney (n): A lawyer.

Subjected (v): Having something done to you.

In lieu (adv): Instead of.

Bolstering (adj): Strengthening.

Congresswoman (n): A female congress worker.

Call out (v): To point out when you don’t agree with someone’s actions.

Championed (v): To promote what you believe in.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Unconstitutional A. Place to speak freely.
2. Public Forum B. Experience
3. Attorney C. Female Congressional Representative
4. Subjected D. Strengthen
5. In lieu E. Say someone’s actions are wrong.
6. Bolstering F. Against the constitution.
7. Congresswoman G. Promote
8. Call out H. Instead
9. Championed I. Lawyer

True or False?

1.  A court in Canada has said President Trump cannot block people on Twitter. T / F

2. The court ruled that blocking was unconstitutional. T / F

3. The judges think social media is not equivalent to a public forum.  T / F

4. President Trump only uses the official president’s Twitter account.  T / F

5. The judges ruled that this law applies to all government workers. T / F

6. Many people have now been unblocked by President Trump.  T / F

7. People are suing a Congresswoman for blocking them. T / F

8. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest senator to ever be elected.  T / F

9. The new ruling will only affect people in certain parties. T / F

10. People are arguing about whether social media is a public forum. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. violation / unconstitutional / The / it / of / that / court / and / the First Amendment / was / ruled / in

2. social / argued / is / a / public / equivalent / that / forum / the / They / to / media

3. should / any / rules / to / be / official / ruled / the / court / that / The / government / subjected

4. the / ever / Ocasio-Cortez / youngest / to / in / is / woman / Congress / serve

5. ruling / will / officials / affect / politicians / The / recent / and

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English: 

Doubt Agreed Official
Celebrities Criticism Guarantees
Supporters Block Representing

A federal court in New York has decided that President Trump is not allowed to (1)_________ people on Twitter. The court ruled that it was unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment, which (2)_________________ every American the right to free speech. The ruling was delivered after seven people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter took the case to court. They argued that social media is the equivalent to a public forum and therefore government officials cannot be allowed to silence them. The judges (3)___________.

Attorneys (4)_________________ President Trump argued that because he uses his personal account, the rules should not apply in the same way as if he was using an official account. The court ruled that any government (5)_____________ should be subjected to the rules, regardless of whether they are using a personal account or not. President Trump also uses his personal account in lieu of the official Presidential Twitter account, bolstering the argument that his account isn’t only for personal use.

Since the ruling, a number of people have been unblocked by President Trump’s account. However, there are many, including (6)________________ such as author Stephen King, that remain blocked by the President. The ruling has also caused other government officials to come under fire. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now being challenged in the courts because she has also blocked people on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress and has gained a large following in a short space of time. She has gained both praise and (7)________________ for her use of Twitter which she often uses to call out opponents and even people within her own party. (8)________________ of Ocasio-Cortez have championed her as the future of the Democratic Party and as such, she has come under fire from Republicans.

The recent ruling will affect politicians and officials of all parties in the US, although the debate over whether or not social media is a public forum will no (9)__________ continue.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Is talking on social media the same as in real life?
5. Should government officials be allowed to block people online?
6. Can laws created 200 years ago apply to life today?
7. How can governments and laws catch up with technology?
8. Are there free speech rules in your country?
9. To what extent should free speech be allowed?
10. Does your country have a constitution?
11. Are government officials held to account in your country?
12. Is there freedom of the press in your country? If so, has it ever been threatened?
13. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is part of a new generation of politicians in the US. Is it important for young people to be involved in politics?
14. Are young people involved in politics in your country?
15. How does freedom of speech improve a country?
16. Should age affect freedom of speech?
17. Are there situations where you watch what you say?
18. What other rights should people have?
19. Is it right for governments to censor the internet?
20. What questions would you like to ask the judges who decided this case?