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President Donald Trump lost a major Twitter fight Tuesday when a federal appeals court said that his daily musings and pronouncements were overwhelmingly official in nature and that he violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint.

The effect of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision is likely to reverberate throughout politics after the Manhattan court warned that any elected official using a social media account “for all manner of official purposes” and then excluding critics violates free speech.

“The government is not permitted to ‘amplify’ favored speech by banning or burdening viewpoints with which it disagrees,” the appeals court said.

Because it involved Trump, the ruling is getting more attention than a January decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a Virginia politician violated the First Amendment rights of one of her constituents by blocking him from a Facebook page.

Still, the appeals court in New York acknowledged, not every social media account operated by a public official is a government account, and First Amendment violations must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate,” Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel.

The debate generates a “level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen,” the court’s decision read.

“This debate, as uncomfortable and as unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing,” the 2nd Circuit added. “In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

The Department of Justice is disappointed by the ruling and is exploring possible next steps, agency spokesperson Kelly Laco said.

“As we argued, President Trump’s decision to block users from his personal twitter account does not violate the First Amendment,” Laco said in an emailed statement.

Appeal options include asking the panel to reconsider, or seeking a reversal from the full 2nd Circuit or from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision came in a case brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It had sued on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.


The Ohio Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a man sentenced to death for the 1985 rape, torture and slaying of a 12-year-old boy.

Attorneys for 52-year-old Danny Lee Hill have unsuccessfully argued bite-mark evidence used against him was unreliable and that he should get a new trial.

A county judge rejected his request, and a state appeals court upheld that decision. The state Supreme Court this week declined to consider a further appeal.

Hill was convicted of aggravated murder in the killing of Raymond Fife in Warren.

Hill is separately challenging his eligibility for the death penalty, citing intellectual deficits. A federal appeals court is slated to hear arguments in that case this fall.


The Supreme Court is rejecting a challenge to federal regulation of gun silencers, just days after a gunman used one in a shooting rampage that killed 12 people in Virginia.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning away appeals from two Kansas men who were convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers. The men argued that the constitutional right “to keep and bear arms” includes silencers.

Kansas and seven other states joined in a court filing urging the justices to hear the appeal. The states said the court should affirm that the Second Amendment protects “silencers and other firearms accessories.”

President Donald Trump’s administration asked the court to stay out of the case and leave the convictions in place.

Shane Cox, owner of a military surplus store, was convicted of making and transferring an unregistered silencer, and customer Jeremy Kettler was convicted of possessing one, all in violation of the 85-year-old National Firearms Act. Both men were sentenced to probation.



The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld a verdict that found a Sioux Falls restaurant was not negligent when a customer was injured after falling in a slippery parking lot.

The court ruled the jury was properly instructed in the 2014 case, despite an argument to the contrary by Shirley Tammen. She appealed a verdict alleging the circuit court didn't give complete instructions to the jury and didn't consider her proposed instructions.

The Argus Leader reports Tammen argued the restaurant was negligent in not clearing its parking lot of ice and snow. Fryn' Pan provided evidence that its snow crew cleared the lot the day before Tammen fell and that it was difficult to sand between parked cars. The jury found owners of the Fryn' Pan were not negligent.


Venezuela’s top court opened a criminal investigation against six opposition lawmakers Tuesday following last week’s failed attempt to spark a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro.

The lawmakers are suspected of “betraying the homeland” and “instigating an insurrection,” among other charges, the pro-government Supreme Court said. Those facing accusations include prominent figures in the Venezuelan opposition such as Henry Ramos Allup and Luis Germán Florido.

The court initially had said seven faced investigation, but later in the day lowered the number to six without explanation.

The action came one week after opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged soldiers to oust Maduro, who has taken steps to reassert his authority in the aftermath of the failed uprising.

Additionally, the government announced that it was taking control of three private airports. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol described it as a necessary measure to “guarantee efficiency” and crack down on illegal activity.

Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress, meanwhile, met to discuss a proposal for the country’s return to a regional defense agreement that dates from the Cold War — a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation’s crisis. The matter was referred to an assembly committee.

Years ago, Venezuela and other left-governed nations pulled out of the U.S.-led defense pact, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are considering military “options” in the Venezuelan crisis, in addition to diplomatic and economic pressure that has been intensifying for months against Maduro.

Military police prevented journalists from e


The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider Virginia’s plea to reinstate the life-without-parole sentence of a man who as a teenager participated in sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., region in 2002.

The justices said they will take up the state’s appeal in the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad fatally shot 10 people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. Malvo was sentenced to life-without-parole terms in Virginia and in Maryland. Muhammad, who was 41 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to death and was executed in 2009.

Malvo was sentenced to four life terms for crimes he committed in Virginia. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled last year that while Malvo’s life-without-parole sentences were legal when they were imposed, Supreme Court decisions that followed altered sentencing requirements for juvenile offenders.

The appeals court judges said a resentencing would determine whether Malvo qualifies as “one of the rare juvenile offenders” who can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole because his “crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.” They said if his crimes instead “reflect the transient immaturity of youth,” he is entitled to a sentence short of life without parole.

The Supreme Court will review that decision. As is typical, the justices did not make any comment in agreeing to hear the case, which will be argued in the fall.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, it is unlikely that Malvo would get out of prison anytime soon. He isn’t currently getting a new sentencing hearing in Maryland, where he struck a plea deal and was sentenced to six life-without-parole prison terms for shootings that took place in that state.

A judge previously ruled that Malvo would not get new sentencing hearings in Maryland. Malvo, who has been serving his sentences at Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Virginia, has appealed.


An Ohio attorney has been ordered to pay $300,000 to two women whose photos from when they were young girls were manipulated to create fake child pornography used by the attorney in court cases.

Cleveland.com reports a federal appeal court in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday that a bankruptcy judge's 2017 opinion that attorney Jack Boland didn't need to pay the judgment ignored the women's reputation and privacy rights.

Boland once served as an expert witness who would testify that innocent photographs can be manipulated while arguing defendants may not have knowingly viewed or possessed child pornography.

Images of the girls, who are now adults, were taken from a stock photo book. Their guardians sued Boland in federal court in 2007. A $300,000 judgment was rendered in 2011.
Boland declined to comment.

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