Seigenthaler Debates


Resolved: Internet Platforms Should Be Treated Like Common Carriers

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In Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University v. Trump, 928 F.3d 226 (2d Cir. 2019), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was a public forum; as such, President Trump was said to have violated the First Amendment rights of several users when he blocked them from participation. Upon appeal, as Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, 593 U.S. ____ (2021), the Supreme Court vacated the decision. However, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion in which he questioned how a private company held to be a public forum could eliminate accounts and ban individuals. He suggested the area might fall within the law of common carriers. Under that doctrine, governments may require businesses closely associated with public concerns—such as transportation and communication—to serve all customers. The 2022 Seigenthaler Debate revolved around this issue.

Format: The program lasted approximately ninety minutes, and consisted of a welcome by Professor A.G. Harmon, introductions by Professor Marshall Breger, the debate, and an opportunity for the audience to submit questions through the moderator.