The Top Court on Monday vacated an appeals court ruling that President Donald J. Trump had outraged the First Amendment by blocking people from his Twitter account after they affixed critical comments.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in 2019 that Mr. Trump’s account was a visible forum from which he was powerless to exclude people based on their frame of references.
The Supreme Court’s move was expected, as Mr. Trump is no longer president and Stew has permanently suspended his account.
More surprising was a 12-page concurring judgement from Justice Clarence Thomas musing on what he called the perilous power a few private companies have over free speech.
“Today’s digital daises provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including sales pitch by government actors,” he wrote. “Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated handle of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties. We will soon have on the agenda c trick no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned advice infrastructure such as digital platforms.”
No other justice joined the estimation, and Justice Thomas’s views on the First Amendment can be idiosyncratic. But his opinion lay bare widespread frustration, particularly among conservatives, about letting top secret companies decide what the public may read and see.
The appeals court “feared that then-President Trump cut off idiom by using the features that Twitter made available to him,” Justice Thomas put in wrote. “But if the aim is to ensure that speech is not smothered, then the more glaring unsettle must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves.”