Clarence Thomas: The Courts Will Have To Look At Big Tech’s Growing Power

Back in 2017, President Trump blocked a few trolls on twitter. With the help of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, those trolls sued Trump saying that it violated their First Amendment.

A federal district court ruled against the president, declaring that Twitter is a "public forum".

In 2019, Trump appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and again was ruled against. Last year, Trump asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. In 2020, Trump asked the Supreme Court to decide the case.

As Byron York points out in the Washington Examiner:

“But then something odd happened. On January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riot, Twitter permanently suspended @realDonaldTrump. The president was thrown off Twitter forever.
Which raised a question: If Trump's Twitter account was an official public, government space, how could a private company -- Twitter -- shut it down? There was a clear contradiction between what the courts were saying about Trump's account and what Twitter did. What gives?”

This week, the Supreme Court threw out the case because the issue is moot since Trump is not longer president.

However, Thomas says at some point the courts will have to address Big Tech’s growing influence and control.

Thomas writes:

"this petition highlights the principal legal difficulty that surrounds digital platforms— namely, that applying old doctrines to new digital platforms is rarely straightforward. Respondents have a point, for example, that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s account resemble a constitutionally protected public forum. But it seems rather odd to say that something is a government forum when a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it…
Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties. 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."