January 22, 2021
It may seem like it was long ago, but once upon a time, America had a President who spent a lot of time on Twitter. And, back in 2017, he blocked people from his account because he didn’t like what they said. In response, the Knight First Amendment Institute and a handful of Twitter users sued Trump, arguing that Trump used Twitter as a public forum to share official information is his capacity as President and that he was violating their right to petition the government by blocking them. The U.S. District Court agreed, finding Twitter is a designated public forum and that the President violated the First Amendment by engaging in “viewpoint-based exclusion” of the plaintiffs from that forum. Trump appealed the decision and lost again in the 2nd Circuit, so in August he took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But here’s the thing: Trump is no longer President. Isn’t the case now moot?
Not so fast, argues Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall. In a supplemental brief filed earlier this week, Wall encouraged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari, vacate the 2nd Circuit’s decision and instruct the U.S. District Court to dismiss the suit.
The Court tends not to entertain cases that are moot (though Roe v. Wade is a notable exception). I’m not particularly good at predicting the future, but I’m guessing that even if the Court accepts the case, the changing of the guard at the Justice Department may change the manner in which the current White House addresses the controversy in any event.