Lawsuit Seeking to Block Trump From Sending Future 'Presidential Alerts'
The anti trump activists filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court
A group from New York is seeking to block Donald Trump from sending future Presidential alerts messages to Americans cell phones.
The anti trump activists filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to stop the first alert, which has since gone out.
They argue that the system violates their free speech rights, therefore, constitutes an unconstitutional seizure of their electronic devices.
The first-ever national test of the "presidential alert" for mobiles was planned for Sept. 20, but it was delayed due to the barrage from Hurricane Florence.
According to Politico, wireless phone users can opt out of most alerts sent under the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While some users can decide not to accept regional messages and so-called Amber Alerts regarding missing or endangered children, under federal rules, receipt of the top-level “presidential alerts“ is mandatory.
In the new lawsuit, J.B. Nicholas, Kristine Rakowsky and Liane Nikitovich contend that the system will effectively turn them into "government loudspeakers" that would allow Trump or others to distribute propaganda.
A law signed by President Barack Obama in 2016 says that, except for testing, the emergency alert system "shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety."
"Without more specific definitions...officials — including President Trump — are free to define 'act of terrorism' and 'threat to public safety' as they see fit, potentially broadcasting arbitrary, biased, irrational and content-based messages to hundreds of millions of people," the complaint claims.
Nicholas, Rakowsky and Nikitovich accuse Trump of disseminating "weaponized disinformation" on Twitter and say they "don't wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from Defendant Trump."
Justice Department spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the suit, which was filed last week and made public by the court on Monday.
The suit was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Failla, an Obama appointee.
Although the plaintiffs asked for a preliminary injunction to halt Wednesday's test, she has not yet scheduled any hearings on that motion.
While the plaintiffs filed the case without an attorney, Nicholas — a freelance photographer and journalist who has worked for major New York City newspapers— has had some success with past litigation he brought on his own.
A suit he filed in 2015 against the New York Police Department over its media-credentialing policies, cleared a major hurdle last year when a federal judge rejected the city's motion to dismiss the case.
Nicholas' case has won the backing of professional press photographers and is now being sought by First Amendment attorneys at law firm Cahill, Gordon & Reindel.