Monday, April 5, 2021

Briefly Noted: Clarence Thomas Gets Out Front, And More

This morning the SCOTUS issued orders in pending cases. One of those cases 



involved President Trump and Twitter. The case was dismissed as moot in a 2-3 sentence order, but Justice Thomas filed a 12 page concurrence (which begins on p. 9 of the pdf). Here's what the case was about, as summarized by Thomas:

Donald Trump, then President of the United States, blocked several users from interacting with his Twitter account. They sued. The Second Circuit held that the comment threads were a “public forum” and that then-President Trump violated the First Amendment by using his control of the Twitter account to block the plaintiffs from accessing the comment threads. ... But Mr. Trump, it turned out, had only limited control of the account; Twitter has permanently removed the account from the platform.

That brief summary set the stage for Thomas to get out ahead of the rest of the SCOTUS in setting forth the complicated 1st Amendment issues that the SCOTUS will, sooner or later, need to address. Thomas doesn't suggest any particular solution, but he does set forth and discuss some of the different possibilities for addressing the whole complex of constitutional questions that are posed by the role "digital platforms" now play in controlling and shaping the flow of information. I like that Thomas did this--as the senior justice on the SCOTUS he's assuming a leadership role, and I assume that his concurrence most likely reflects at least some input from other justices. Read it if you want to get some idea of the complexity of these issues--we all know there's a major problem here, but a bull in the china shop approach is not advisable. Here's Thomas' concluding paragraph, which returns to the irony he presented in his summary of the case:

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. As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms. The extent to which that power matters for purposes of the First Amendment and the extent to which that power could lawfully be modified raise interesting and important questions. This petition, unfortunately, affords us no opportunity to confront them.

Will Chamberlain in a tweet today presents quite graphically what's at stake--is the public to be informed or are they to be deceived? The traditional media has descended ever more openly into disinformation:

File under Go Figure:

Baiden last week announced his grandiose spending bill, which reserves $174 billion as subsidies for electric vehicles, charging stations and similar policies.

Back in December, Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, invested between half a million and $1 million in the famous electric car company Tesla, financial disclosures show. 

Some people are just lucky. But it's always better to make your own luck.

Politics in America--who are these stupid people who just don't get it? Chicago Public School Students, You Are Doomed. Of course, this is a sure sign that IL's corpulent governor has higher ambitions, so he needs to buy off the teachers unions--that's the Dem way:

JB Pritzker chose Good Friday to lie prostrate before the Chicago Teachers Union by signing HB 2275, which will vastly expand the CTU’s power.

The new law is a major step toward the CTU’s long-term goal of fully controlling Chicago Public Schools. It expands CTU’s negotiation and strike powers to cover matters like class size, staff assignments, charter schools, subcontracting, layoffs and the lengths of the school day and year.

The new law will restore CTU to the position of power it had when it walked out routinely. Prior to limitations on its power, which are now gutted, Chicago teachers went on strike in 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987. And according to the Chicago Tribune, the union threatened to strike another eight times during the same period.

Chicago teachers were already among the highest paid in the nation when they inflicted a 14-day strike on CPS students in the fall of 2019 that won union members even better pay, said a Chicago Tribune editorial that called for the bill to be vetoed. Now, the CTU will throw the kitchen sink into its demands, which have included rent abatement and other social justice goals far removed from the classroom. The most immediate victim of the new law will be current negotiations over reopening, which probably will be complicated by CTU’s new powers.

I read this morning that the California teachers union is demanding free day care. Hey, there's a reason their unions are called "teachers unions" rather than "student education unions".


  1. I had read much of the Thomas opinion earlier. I do believe everyone is correct in saying he is doing the right thing in being a leader. However I have my doubts that the rest of the court, and I'm looking right at the Republican majority, remotely support answering the same questions.

    The double-sided argument that a public person can not block a user but can be blocked themselves is not the path to take in this. It travels too far into private entity / business "right of refusal" territory.

    These things should have been handled by stripping their Section 230 protections already. For that I put the blame squarely and equally on BOTH parties.

    Social media will never be a fair or equally balanced public platform, that is just the way the wind blows.

  2. "Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, invested between half a million and $1 million in the famous electric car company Tesla..."

    I've read the Pelosi’s have bought a million shares in stock with Amazon and another half a million shares in Walmart since COVID. Seems Pelosi is quite motivated to allow COVID hysteria to spread and lockdowns to continue...


  3. "The traditional media has descended ever more openly into disinformation"

    Scott Adams today spoke about CNN allowing the lie from Floyd family lawyer that there were only trace amounts of drugs in Floyd's body. The inference is that CNN is willingly fostering riots, because the public will believe that Floyd is dead because he was murdered, not because he OD'd.

    A related question is can anyone whose business was destroyed due to riots sue CNN, because they knowingly published false information, and sowed the seeds of riots?


    1. they should.

      The media is committing these outrages solely because they 'can't' be sued.

      They need to be sued out of business.

    2. Excellent point. And, as it happens, it's--in essence--a point that Thomas addressed just recently. The two issues are, in fact, closely interrelated.