Whether public figures can prevent opponents from leaving comments on their social media accounts came up in a lawsuit involving former President Donald Trump.
The Supreme Court stated on Monday that it would address the matter.
In a case involving Trump’s attempts to restrict detractors from his personal Twitter account two years ago, the Supreme Court denied the appeal.
When Trump barred a critic from silencing a perspective, a lower court ruled that Trump had violated the First Amendment.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit should be dropped because there was no longer any merit to it after Trump’s indefinite suspension from Twitter and the conclusion of his tenure as president.
Later, the account of the former Republican president was restored.
The court has now consented to consider two cases involving somewhat less well-known individuals. California’s Poway Unified School District Board of Trustees has two elected members. This is the first case. Members T.J. and Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff.
Zane used his Twitter and Facebook profiles to interact with the public. Christopher and Kimberly Garnier, two parents, were banned after posting harsh remarks and answers to board members’ messages. According to an appeals court, the board members had transgressed their free expression rights.
James Freed, the city manager of Port Huron, Michigan, assumed responsibility for the second case in 2014. Freed, who the mayor and City Council chose for the role, established a Facebook profile to interact with the public. Kevin Lindke, a local, commented on the page multiple times from three different Facebook accounts in 2020, criticizing the city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Freed erased Lindke’s comments and blocked all three versions. Lower courts sided with Freed when Lindke filed a lawsuit.
More and more public officials are utilizing social media to conduct official business, according to Katie Fallow, senior counsel at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which was involved in the Trump case.
Government officials cannot bar people from participating in public forums merely because they disagree with what they are saying, Fallow said in a statement. “As many courts have held, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the president or a local city manager,” she added.
“The Supreme Court ought to reiterate that fundamental First Amendment tenet.”
The Supreme Court won’t hear the new cases until the fall. After hearing the final planned arguments this week, the judges will decide in May and June before taking a summer break.
In October, the court will get back up with hearing arguments.