Supreme Court dismisses case over Trump and Twitter critics

Supreme Court vacates ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter critics, saying case is moot

Supreme Court dismisses Trump Twitter case as moot, as Thomas highlights 'glaring concern' of platform's power

The people Trump had blocked included activists, journalists, and celebrity Chrissy Teigen, who built up a following partly through her strongly-worded retorts at the president, including calling him "a p-- a- b--" at one point in 2019.

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.

"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", Thomas wrote. Thomas added that the control over so much speech rests in the hands "of a few private parties".

Thomas acknowledged how modern technology is not always easily addressed by existing legal doctires, and warned that the Supreme Court "will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms".

The ruling won't matter much to Trump, however.

The answer is, of course, that they're both, which is why the law has some catching up to do. In the past, the court has ruled that neither retains First Amendment rights. But Thomas suggests Section 230 may also be a First Amendment matter if it pre-empts state laws created to protect free speech.

"The Second Circuit feared that then-President Trump cut off speech by using the features that Twitter made available to him", concluded Thomas.

"Today's digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors".

"As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms", Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

Thomas agreed with his colleagues about the outcome of the case, but said the situation raises "interesting and important questions".

Trump posted official presidential statements, policy changes, and proclamations from his Twitter account, making it a "public forum" and blocking Twitter users abridged their First Amendment right to petition their government for redress, the Knight Institute argued.In Trump's defense, the Department of Justice said that because the former president was blocking users from a personal account, taking legal action against it would be akin to violating his personal property rights. The Supreme Court has said the government may not discriminate in a public forum on the basis of a speaker's views. The current situation in which the public interest is not represented on these public platforms clearly can't continue.

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