Free Speech and Private Property

by Andrew P. Napolitano

Former President Donald J. Trump recently filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Miami against the Big Tech companies that have denied him a platform. He has targeted Twitter and Facebook, whose media platforms he had used with spectacular success before and during his presidency to advance his ideas and to attack his opponents.

Trump perfected the art of communicating directly with the American public, and thereby avoiding the mainstream media, as his principal means of reaching voters. When Twitter and Facebook denied him access earlier this year, he began a digital platform of his own. When that failed to catch on, he sued those who denied him access to theirs.

The theory of his litigation is that “the internet is the new public square.” Thus, he argues, all forms of speech should not only be tolerated on the internet, but the courts — the judicial branch of the government — should compel the owners of internet platforms to carry speech that they hate or fear. Can the courts do that?

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