The Supreme Court issued a ruling today declaring moot a lawsuit over Trump’s blocking of some Twitter users from commenting on what he said on the platform. But Clarence Thomas used his platform to sound the alarm over Trump’s social media ban writing a 12-page opinion.
“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties,” Thomas wrote.
“We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.”
“It seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it,” Thomas wrote.
“Any control Mr. Trump exercised over the account greatly paled in comparison to Twitter’s authority, dictated in its terms of service, to remove the account ‘at any time for any or no reason.’ Twitter exercised its authority to do exactly that.”
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also sounded the alarm.
“You have a former president in Trump, who was a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad-news guy,” Sanders said.
“But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”
“Yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view,” Bernie said.
“I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people.”
Twitter said the ban on Trump is permanent and not reversible. Facebook sent his case to an independent board that will decide whether Trump can be let back on the platform.
Facebook created the board so that one guy – Zuckerberg – would not have the power to make these decisions unilaterally.
🚨Clarence Thomas suggests that social media companies may NOT have a First Amendment right to regulate speech on their platforms, analogizing them to "common carriers" and "places of public accommodation." https://t.co/2zx7nCtIAz pic.twitter.com/ZleTE1aI0S— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) April 5, 2021
Justice Clarence Thomas is always worth reading closely. Today is no exception. Read his entire concurrence today (starts at p. 9 of this PDF: https://t.co/41xQzdttGu) and then note the reference here to Amazon… We need more legal thinkers like Justice Thomas. pic.twitter.com/mS1qipAJmZ— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) April 5, 2021