A U.S. federal appeals court has dismissed Twitter’s plea to inform former President Donald Trump about a search warrant issued for his data.
What Happened: The ruling by the D.C. Circuit was split along partisan lines. Four Republican appointees argued that Trump should have been given a chance to argue for withholding some information from the government, reported The Washington Post.
The court has upheld a $350,000 penalty on Twitter for failing to comply promptly with the 2020 election interference investigation warrant. The company can still take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Judicial disregard of executive privilege undermines the Presidency, not just the former President being investigated in this case," Judge Neomi Rao wrote for the disagreeing group.
In July, three judges from the D.C. Circuit, all appointed by Democrats, determined that the nondisclosure order was a permissible limitation on X’s speech.
They argued that the order was justified as it was believed that revealing the warrant could endanger a criminal investigation with “national security implications.”
The court specifically stated that there was a concern that Trump might tamper with evidence, inform potential co-defendants about the investigation, or potentially flee the country.
The social media company was appealing a ruling that barred Twitter from informing Trump or his legal team about a January 2023 search warrant for his data. The platform claimed a First Amendment right to notify Trump, who could contest the disclosure.
However, Twitter conceded that it lacked the standing to make any claims on behalf of Trump. The report noted that no court has yet ruled on whether a former president can prevent a business from obeying a court order or if such rights could outweigh the need for confidentiality in criminal investigations.
Twitter eventually handed over the information two days after the court deadline of Feb. 7. The data was instrumental in the subsequent indictment of Trump by special counsel Jack Smith on charges of obstructing Congress and impeding citizens’ voting rights.
Why It Matters: This ruling comes as a significant step against Twitter’s assertion that the warrant should have been suspended until its First Amendment claims and any executive privilege claims by Trump were resolved in court.
Despite the data handover, X has consistently opposed the court’s ruling. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also supported X, stating that the ruling represented a significant revision of First Amendment law.
This development follows Trump’s return to the platform, which was rebranded as X. The former President, who had been banned in early 2021, once again boasted a large following.
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