When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released their decision to uphold the majority of the earlier decision that blocked the executive order from Donald Trump that he so graciously defined as a travel ban, they also included a footnote that included something far more important than the decision of that individual case. They included language that confirmed President Trump’s tweets should be considered a binding form of communication that expresses direct intent from the executive branch.
The decision to keep the travel ban blocked was based on the idea that the executive order did not actually provide legitimate reasoning for the ban in the first place under standard protocols. In other words, while Trump seems to think the order that would stop nationals from six primarily Muslim nations entering the United States will protect the American people, the court decided that no such correlation could be made in terms of the interests of the American people.
Interestingly enough, Trump actually tweeted that the countries themselves, and presumably their governments, represent the potential danger to the United States, and not their citizens, many of whom are experiencing the horrifying tyranny of those governments. The court basically said that Trump himself admitted that the people coming from those nations are not the real threat, so the travel ban was unnecessary. The fact that the footnote from the court cites a Trump tweet inherently means that those communications are official in nature, despite what many in the Republican camp would claim. However, it is well-known that Sean Spicer once called tweets from the president ‘official statements’.
The combination of the confirmation from Sean Spicer and the fact that Trump regularly uses social media to express speech that clearly should not be ignored as lacking intent was all that was needed for the court to rule that Trump’s Twitter transcripts constitute official statements that should be counted in legal proceedings. Up until now, the question of whether or not Trump’s tweets should be taken seriously has, itself, not been taken seriously, but now the issue has been thrust into the spotlight.
Another development that has resulted from the court’s decision is that a piece of legislation designed to expand the Presidential Records Act to include all communications placed on social media has been taken much more seriously than its name implies. The piece of legislation, called the COVFEFE Act, not only pokes fun at Trump for his recent spelling error which resulted in the popular COVFEFE meme, but it also aims to make it illegal for Trump to delete his tweets as part of the Presidential record. This would also make it illegal for Trump to block people on his Twitter account, which would be redefined as a public forum where the First Amendment must rule.
Since and even before Trump took office, his tweets have been a major talking point for both the Republicans and the Democrats. Depending on the nature of the tweet, many Republicans will say that his tweets should be largely ignored. Others claim they should be taken literally. Now that the 9th Circuit Court has made their decision, it seems as if his tweets will be entered into the public and legal record.
It might seem like a massive waste of the court’s time to focus on Trump’s tweets when they could or possibly should be determining whether Trump is fit for the position of President of the United States at all. However, one could also argue that it’s a massive waste of time for the president to use Twitter at all when he should be protecting the American people.