On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled on a case in connection to President Donald Trump and his Twitter account. More specifically, this case has discussed whether the former president was allowed to block users who were critical of him on the platform. With this, Justice Clarence Thomas penned a statement, striking back at tech companies and they way their use the First Amendment as an excuse.
Several Twiter users filed a case against the former president in 2017 (Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump). In it, they argued that Trump stepped on their First Amendment rights when he blocked their Twitter accounts. While the former president posted on his personal Twitter page, the complainants argued that he had also used it in a presidential manner as he released official statements in it. This, then, makes it a “public forum,” according to the users. A New York judge ruled in 2018 that Trump’s actions were unconstitutional.
Justice Thomas on Rights and Digital Platforms
However, SCOTUS decided to send back the case to a federal court. It dismissed the said case, saying it is debatable. Justice Clarence Thomas penned a concurring opinion, in which he said that the dismissal was the correct action to do. He also noted that Trump is no longer the president.
Additionally, Thomas revealed his opinion regarding digital and social media platforms. He said these platforms now contain an alarming amount of concentrated political power. He added that SCOTUS needs to address how to treat ownership of digital platforms.
Thomas added that using old protocols in dealing with new platforms is not as simple. He made the case of the Twitter users’ complaint against Trump, noting that while the former president’s former account resembles a public forum in some ay. However, he noted that it may be weird to say that a page is a government forum when the one who has unrestricted authority towards it is a private company.
The justice then remarked that he clearly doesn’t think digital platforms have First Amendment rights. His views hint that he thinks tech and social media giants have “too much power” for the good of the public. He added that appropriate legislation and lawsuits are needed to end the abuse of power done by these big tech companies.