Supreme Court vacates ruling that prevented Trump from blocking Twitter critics

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 6, 2021

The case is now moot because Trump has left office and has also been banned from the platform.

The Supreme Court issued an order today that President Donald Trump is now free to block whomever he chooses on Twitter, which will be hard now that the liberal social media web site has banned his account.

The court said there was nothing left to the case after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and ended his presidential term in January. On the day before the inauguration, they asked the justices to dismiss the case as moot and vacate the ruling. But they see danger in the Georgia and NY investigations. "Because of the change in Presidential administration, the Court correctly vacates the Second Circuit's decision", Justice Clarence Thomas. The case is also now moot because Trump has been banned from the platform for almost three months.

Twitter suspended the account on January 8, two days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed bid to reverse his election defeat by stopping lawmakers from tallying electoral-college votes.

"Because unbridled control of the account resided in the hands of a private party, First Amendment doctrine may not have applied to respondents' complaint of stifled speech", Thomas pointed out, stating that "w$3 hether governmental use of private space implicates the First Amendment often depends on the government's control over that space".

In the SCOTUS decision itself, the nation's highest court overturned a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with people who sued President Trump, when he was president, for blocking their accounts on Twitter.

The lower-court decision had implications for other elected officials and how they communicate on social networks. The full nine-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit declined to rehear the case en banc - or as a whole circuit court - in March 2020. Lower courts had ruled against Trump.

Meanwhile, Justice Thomas wrote separately to note that while the plaintiff had a point that "some aspects of Mr. Trump's account resemble a constitutionally protected public forum", there was a "principal legal difficulty that surrounds digital platforms - namely, that applying old doctrines to new digital platforms is rarely straightforward".

"It seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it", Justice Thomas wrote.

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