Clarence Thomas Laments Trump’s Social Media Ban In Supreme Court Ruling
Following a Monday Supreme Court decision calling a lawsuit concerning former President Donald Trump‘s blocking of Twitter users moot, Justice Clarence Thomas warned in his opinion that “control of so much speech is in the hands of a few private parties,” citing social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.
“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 in his decision. “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.”
“Although both companies are public, one person controls Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), and just two control Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin),” Thomas warned. “It seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it. 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.”
Justice Thomas, a George H.W. Bush-appointed judge regularly aligns with conservative interpretations of the Constitution, but his view on social media is shared by Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who said on a New York Times podcast recently, “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 then agreed with Justice Thomas saying, “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.”