On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a decision in a case involving former President Donald Trump’s use of his Twitter account. The case concerned whether or not he was entitled to block users who were constantly attacking him. The true story is Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion.
Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump was filed by Twitter users in 2017, and it was renamed Knight First Amendment Institute v. Biden in 2021. The plaintiffs said that by blocking their user accounts, the former president had violated their First Amendment rights.
Although Trump tweeted from his personal account, Twitter users claimed that by issuing official statements, he had used it in a presidential capacity, rendering it a “public forum.” A New York judge ruled in 2018 that the president’s policies were illegal.
The concurring opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who argued that dismissing the case was the correct course of action, noting that Donald Trump is no longer in office.
More specifically, Justice Thomas expressed his belief that digital and social media outlets now possess dangerously centralized political influence, which the nation’s highest court would have to resolve.
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Thomas wrote, “Today’s digital channels provide outlets for historically unparalleled quantities of expression, including speech by government actors.” “Another first is the concentration of too much speech power in the hands of a few private parties. We’ll soon be forced to consider how our legal doctrines relate to highly centralized, privately held information technology like digital platforms.”
“It’s rarely easy to adapt old doctrines to modern digital platforms,” Thomas added. “Some elements of Mr. Trump’s account, for example, mimic a constitutionally protected public forum,” respondents claim.
Justice Thomas shares his frustration with digital platforms’ First Amendment protections. This is a warning shot to Twitter and other Big Tech firms.
“This is not the first or only case in which digital channels have been raised as a concern,” Thomas adds. “While this case concerns a complaint against a public official, the Court correctly rejects today a separate petition arguing that digital networks, rather than the people who use them, violated public accommodations rules, the First Amendment, and antitrust laws.”
In Thomas’ opinion, these Big Tech behemoths wield much too much influence for the public good. To put an end to it, the necessary legislation and litigation must now be filed.