April 6 According to a report by Chinese website, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit against former President Trump’s Twitter account on the 5th local time. The U.S. Department of Justice had previously asked for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that Trump had left office, and the case had become a “no empty letter”.
The case reportedly originated in 2017, when the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University filed a lawsuit in court on behalf of seven Twitter accounts that were “hacked” by Trump. The plaintiffs argued that Trump’s Twitter account, as then president, was actually a “public forum” and that blocking criticism violated the First Amendment’s provisions on freedom of speech. The lower court and the second circuit court of appeal successively ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
During Trump’s presidency, the U.S. Department of Justice allegedly urged the Supreme Court to reverse these rulings. While Trump sometimes uses his Twitter account to make official statements, his decision to block other Twitter users is the right of everyone on Twitter, government lawyers said.
The night before President Biden was sworn in, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case and rescind the lower court’s ruling, citing that the case was meaningless after Trump left office.
Fallow, a senior lawyer at Knight Institute, urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s decision. “It is now widely recognized that the principles we have established in this case are important to protect the vitality of public forums, which are becoming more and more important to our democracy,” she said.
She added that the case reshaped the way government officials use social media.
Conservative Justice Thomas, who wrote a 12-page opinion on the case, said the case should be dismissed, but also highlighted a problem that “involving new digital platforms, old dogmas are rarely applied directly.”
Thomas also pointed out that it is strange when private companies have “unrestricted power” to abolish an account, but say that the account is a public forum.
He refers to Twitter permanently blocking Trump’s account after the Capitol riots on January 6. The congressional riots killed a total of five people, including a policeman, and Twitter said at that time that Trump’s account was “in danger of further inciting violence”.