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2nd US Court of Appeals and sent it back to the lower court with instructions to dismiss the case as “in dispute” or no longer active, as Trump is now a private individual. 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.
The announcement was made in an order list and without written justification from the court. 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 “primary 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, No. 20-197 until the change in administration, at which point the case automatically became known as Biden v Knight First Amendment Institute.