President Trump lost a round today in a federal trial over his Twitter account, a case of parallels to the involvement of the Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.
Twitter users blocked from the president's account claimed a violation of their First Amendment rights and have so far heard in court. Twitter users sued Merrill over the same requirements.
Merrill said tonight there is an important difference. He said Trump is using @realDonaldTrump for official business, noting that for example, Trump reached out to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter.
Merrill, running for the US Senate, said he did not use his account, @JohnHMerrill, for the official state secretary.
"I answer questions when people raise them and I've interacted with constituents when they started it," Merrill said. "It is similar to inquiries. It is not me who promotes anything or introduces anything for the first time from the Secretary of State's office."
It is a point in the case filed against Merrill by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on behalf of three blocked Twitter users. The applicants claim that Merrill makes use of the official business account.
In the Trump case today, the US Court of Appeal for Second Circuit in New York ruled that Trump's decision to block some users from his Twitter account violated their first change rights.
The Court of Appeal upheld the court ruling that Trump "is involved in constitutional discrimination" by blocking some Twitter users from a forum otherwise publicly available. The trial was supported by the Knight's First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Attorneys for Trump had partly argued that the account @realDonaldTrump was a personal account created in 2009 and blocking users was not a government act restricting freedom of expression. In today's decision, the appeal court said there was "overwhelming" evidence that @realDonaldTrump was an official account.
Merrill said @JohnHMerrill, created six years ago, is his personal account and that he has no legal obligation to allow others to use it to promote their agendas.
"I said I wouldn't allow them to use my social media platform for their agendas," Merrill said. "As I am not. It will never happen. I have interacted with people a lot of times that I did not agree with. And I will continue to do so. But it is not the same."
There has not been an activity in the trial of Merrill since March, according to online court records.