The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Does Twitter's Ban of Trump "Effectively Moot[]" the Cert Petition in Trump v. Knight First Amendment Institute?

Does the Munsingwear doctrine apply to Twitter?


Currently, the Solicitor General's cert petition is pending in Trump v. Knight First Amendment Institute. This case considers whether President Trump violates the First Amendment when he blocks people on his personal Twitter account, @RealDonaldTrump.  This petition has been floating around for some time. The petition was first distributed for conference on October 30, 2020. The Justices may have been waiting for the inauguration for the case to moot itself out.

On Friday, Twitter permanently banned @RealDonaldTrump. Jameel Jaffer, counsel for the Knight Foundation, said that Twitter's ban "effectively moots" the Solicitor General's cert petition. It seems it is now impossible for Trump to block, or unblock people, because he no longer has an account.

What does the Court do here? Simply deny cert and let the Second Circuit ruling stand? That decision could have sweeping ramifications for other politicians who are not named Donald Trump. Or the Court could GVR under the Munsingwear doctrine, in light of Twitter's policy. Though Trump was at fault for Twitter's change, so I'm not sure Munsingwear is a good fit. A novel application of the shadow docket, for sure.