Clarence Thomas criticises Section 230 of the US Constitution, proposes solutions for social media giants’ threats to First Amendment
US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas filed a 12-page concurring opinion on Monday declaring that social media giants’ ability to restrict speech on their platforms should make them liable for First Amendment violations, regardless of their existence as private entities.
The document follows the US Supreme Court’s voiding of a 2019 appeals-court ruling which declared President Donald Trump’s blocking of several Twitter users as a violation of the First Amendment. The high court ruled the case as moot as Mr Trump is no longer the acting President.
Mr Thomas further criticised the legal protection Section 230 of the Constitution grants to tech giants. He asserted free-speech law should not stop lawmakers from regulating such platforms as common carriers.
Rather than a broad application of the First Amendment across all online moderation decisions, Mr Thomas argues for free-speech law to be applied in limited, reasonable circumstances. For example, when user-submitted content is taken down in response to government threats.
“Because of the change in Presidential administration, the Court correctly vacates the Second Circuit’s decision,” Mr Thomas wrote.
“The Second Circuit feared that then-President Trump cut off speech by using the features that Twitter made available to him. But if the aim is to ensure that speech is not smothered, then the more glaring concern must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves. ······ [Read more] “Clarence Thomas criticises Section 230 of the US Constitution, proposes solutions for social media giants’ threats to First Amendment”