During a Feb. 27 hearing involving the constitutionality of a state social media law, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that Twitter and Facebook had become, and even surpassed, the public square as a place for discussion and debate.
“Their utility and the extent of their coverage are greater than the communication you could have ever had, even in the paradigm of public square,” he said while hearing arguments in Packingham v. North Carolina.
A majority of justices agreed. “The president now uses Twitter … everybody uses Twitter,” observed Justice Elena Kagan. “All 50 governors, all 100 senators, every member of the House has a Twitter account. So this has become a … crucially important channel of political communication.”
Although justices’ comments pertained to whether North Carolina may bar registered sex offenders from using social media, the case could herald a broader expansion of digital liberties by a court that’s often mocked for being behind the times.