The court sent the case back to an appeals court and directed it to be dismissed as moot. The case is one of the last Trump-era lawsuits to be thrown after the president left office. The court earlier this year rejected a case claiming that Trump had broken the obscure emoluments clause of the Constitution through his dealing at the Washington, D.C., Trump Hotel.
Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring conclusion wrote that given the fact that Trump is no longer in office and halted from Twitter, the court made the right choice to drop the case. Still, he continued, the case raised important questions regarding the control of free speech on digital platforms.
"Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors," Thomas wrote. "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."
Trump's Twitter case, Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, arose in 2017 after many Twitter users alleged that Trump had broken their First Amendment rights by blocking their accounts. They claimed that although Trump tweeted from his personal account, he used it in a presidential capacity, making it a public forum. The plaintiffs maintained every Trump tweet was an "official statement."
A New York judge in 2018 ruled that Trump's blocks were unconstitutional.
"This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, 'block' a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States. The answer to both questions is no," Judge Naomi Buchwald wrote.
Shortly after, numerous people whom Trump blocked reported that they had been unblocked. The Trump administration, though, proceeded to fight the lawsuit without success. A series of Twitter users sued Trump again last year, prompting the president to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
When Trump left office, the Biden administration took charge of the case. President Joe Biden's Justice Department in January asked the court to throw the case out, claiming that since Trump is no longer president, the case is moot.
Trump was halted from Twitter earlier this year, after a Jan. 6 riot inside the Capitol. That ban, which for a time seemed temporary, grew permanent in early January.