Supreme Court Dismisses Case Over Donald Trump’s Blocking Of Twitter Followers

06 Avril, 2021, 23:22 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Supreme Court vacates ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter critics, saying case is moot

"But if the aim is to ensure that speech is not smothered, then the more glaring concern must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves".

After Trump lost the election, the Justice Department argued that the underlying dispute was exclusively academic, and urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the case as moot and vacate the 2nd Circuit's opinion. They argued that Trump's Twitter habits was now not in controversy as a result of Twitter eliminated Trump's account and banned him completely on January 8.

"Any control Mr. Trump exercised over the account greatly paled in comparison to Twitter's authority, dictated in its terms of service, to remove the account 'at any time for any or no reason, '" he added.

However, Thomas added the issue caused him to think about the "principal legal difficulty that surrounds" a digital platform, specifically the concentration of power in the hands of so few owners at social media companies.

He continued: "We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms".

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Thomas mused that the argument from the plaintiffs were undermined by the fact that Trump's social media accounts were later suspended by numerous social media platforms. He suggested other doctrines could, however, affect the right of a private company to exclude. "The public interest in preventing impermissible viewpoint discrimination in government-operated social media accounts weighs heavily in favor of keeping the Second Circuit's judgment in place", the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which sued Trump in this case, wrote in a brief.

Thomas then said that modern technology isn't easily addressed by existing laws and regulations. In other words, it places too much power of censorship in the hands of private organizations, which are not constrained by the First Amendment.

"The Second Circuit feared that then-President Trump cut off speech by using the features that Twitter made available to him", Thomas wrote, referring to the lower court's ruling that Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking critics. An appellate court upheld the ruling in July 2019, and the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court. "The extent to which that power matters for purposes of the First Amendment and the extent to which that power could lawfully be modified raise interesting and important questions".

To date, however, judges throughout the country have rejected any attempt to subject large digital platforms to those types of common-carrier requirements.

Social media companies and the laws that shield them from liability for user-posted content have come under fire in recent years. At least one of the apparently millions of lawyers investing the United States will hopefully take this as an invitation to litigate and then Section 230 and social media censorship can be subjected to long over-due legal scrutiny.

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