The Supreme Court on Monday overturned an appeals court ruling that President Donald J. Trump violated the first amendment by banning people from his Twitter account after posting critical comments.
A unanimous three-person jury from the Court of Appeal ruled in 2019 that Mr. Trump’s account was a public forum from which he was unable to exclude people based on their views.
The Supreme Court move was anticipated given that Mr Trump is no longer President and Twitter did so permanently exposed his account.
Was more surprising a 12-page unanimous opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas ponders what he calls the dangerous power some private corporations have over freedom of speech.
“Today’s digital platforms offer opportunities for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech from government actors,” he wrote. “But also unprecedented is the concentrated control over so much language in the hands of a few private parties. We will soon have no choice but to delve into applying our legal teachings to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructures such as digital platforms. “
No other judiciary followed the opinion and Justice Thomas’ views on the First Amendment can be idiosyncratic. However, his opinion reflected widespread frustration, particularly among conservatives, of letting private corporations decide what the public can read and see.
The Court of Appeal “feared that then President Trump would break off the speech by using the functions provided by Twitter,” wrote Justice Thomas. “But if the goal is to make sure language isn’t stifled, the dominant digital platforms themselves must inevitably be the biggest concern.”