President Donald Trump uses a cell phone during a small business reopening panel discussion in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, the United States, on June 18, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
The Supreme Court on Monday overturned a federal appeals court ruling that former President Donald Trump violated the Constitution by blocking his critics on Twitter.
The judges cleared up the decision of the 2nd US Court of Appeals and sent it back to the lower court with instructions to dismiss the case as “in dispute” or no longer active, since Trump is now a private citizen. The lawsuit means that the decision of the lower court no longer binds future judges.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circle decided unanimously in 2019 that Trump was acting in his official capacity when he used the block function of Twitter. In this way, the court said, Trump effectively banned people from a public forum, which went against the first amendment.
Monday’s announcement was made in an order list and without a written explanation of the court’s arguments. No disagreements were found.
Judge Clarence Thomas unanimously wrote that he agreed to the decision to overturn the 2nd Circuit Opinion as Trump was no longer in office.
Thomas said the petition highlighted “the main legal difficulty surrounding digital platforms – namely that applying old teachings to new digital platforms is seldom easy”.
“For example, respondents indicate that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s account resemble a constitutionally protected public forum,” Thomas wrote. “But it seems pretty strange to say that something is a government forum when a private company has full authority to get rid of it.”
The lawsuit was filed by people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
It was known as Trump v Knight First Amendment Institute, # 20-197, until the change of administration, at which point the case automatically became known as Biden v Knight First Amendment Institute.
The Justice Department originally asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 2nd Circle decision, but asked the judges to dismiss the case as in dispute on January 19, the day before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, because of the change in administration .
The Knight First Amendment Institute agreed that the case was contentious for another reason. The legal group said the case came up for discussion after Twitter kicked Trump off its platform in January following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement, Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight Institute, said the case “is a very simple principle that is fundamental to our democracy: officials cannot exclude people from public forums just because they are with them disagree. “
“While we would have liked the Supreme Court to keep the Second Circle decision on the books, we are pleased that the Court of Appeal’s reasoning has already been adopted by other courts, and we are confident that they will how the public shapes it, will continue to shape it. ” Officials use social media, “said Jaffer.