a reply to: stormson
a "public forum" is anyplace open to the public. however, the owner of the area can refuse service and have people removed.
That's not the legal definition of a public forum.
A public forum is not owned by any one owner in that sense. Only the police (a government entity) can have people removed from a public forum, and
only for violating the law. Someone may own the venue, but by making it into a public forum they forego the right to kick people out.
A Trump rally is a private forum if it is paid for by the Trump campaign; Donald Trump can have anyone removed at any time for any reason. A Trump
rally is a public forum if it is paid for using public funds. The only way someone can be kicked out is if they violate the law and are kicked out by
It gets more complicated with services. The electric utility is a public utility; yet it is owned by private interests. It cannot refuse to sell power
to someone over political ideology (or any other reason for that matter) short of public safety (as in dangerous wiring) or failure to pay. The same
with the gas company, the water authority... any utility that serves the public with a critical product under monopolistic conditions.
Twitter serves the public by giving politicians a place to communicate with their constituency. The Internet has become a critical product, and
Twitter holds a de facto
monopoly on that communication. Ergo, Twitter should be considered a public utility. The court decision we are
discussing has agreed that Twitter is a public utility by placing public restrictions on political users, thereby removing Twitter's right to ban
anyone over ideology. The fact that they own the servers is irrelevant. They have the option of shutting down or staying open under the restrictions
of being a public utility... no more, no less.
Despite being a public utility, Twitter can establish site rules as long as those site rules are not discriminatory toward anyone based on
and as long as those rules withstand government scrutiny.
That's the same thing the power company does in establishing
rates; all rates must be approved by the government, and they cannot charge a conservative one rate and a liberal another rate.
According to the court, Twitter's platform is an essential utility due to the use of the platform by politicians. Therefore, banning a user based on
political position is akin to preventing that individual from engaging in a public forum, which is a violation of that individual's right to free
speech. That means anyone who is banned for political ideology has just as much right to sue Twitter as someone who the power company refuses to sell
power to because they hold a political position.
This ruling also applies to all
politicians. AOC, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shumer cannot ban anyone from their tweets as well, if
they use tweets to communicate their official positions (which they all do).
This is not Ethiopia. We in the United States do not have laws for one group and other laws for another. The law is the law, and it applies to
everyone, or to no one. The smartest thing Twitter can do now is remove the blocking option from all accounts held by politicians. Otherwise, they are
going to be et up with all the lawsuits naming them as co-conspirators when a politician blocks a user.