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Twitter and the #So-Called Judge

Elizabeth Thornburg


Twitter and the #So-Called Judge


One-hundred-forty characters may be insufficient to deliver a treatise on the judiciary, but it is more than enough to deliver criticism of the third branch of government. Today, these tweeted critiques sometimes come not from the general public but from the President himself. Attacks such as these come at a challenging time for court systems. We live in a highly politicized, polarized society. This polarization is reflected in attitudes toward the courts, particularly the federal courts. Unfortunately, public doubts about the court system come at a time when public understanding of the structure of government, and especially the court system, is abysmally low.

All of this context raises a number of related questions. When the prolific executive tweeter calls out a federal judge, is President Trump just venting or has he tapped into a strong subset of American opinion on the judiciary? And, if so, does a “so-called judge” have a role in engaging, informing, perhaps even rebutting these opinions? Further, could 140 characters be an effective platform to use in fulfilling that role?

This article will address the specific issue of judges using Twitter to promote the interests of the courts as institutions. After section II’s brief description of the mechanics of Twitter, section III will discuss why and how judges communicate through Twitter.

Section IV will sound a note of caution based on two factors:

1) a web of judicial ethics rules that limit judicial speech (including Twitter); and

2) the nature of the Twitter experience and the way people use it, which can hinder attempts to effectively reach the desired audience.

The article will conclude by arguing that in this day and age, when much of America gets its news from social media and those platforms are being used to delegitimize the judiciary, the third branch can ill afford to disengage. Judicial tweeting, within the limits of the ethics rules, should be encouraged rather than shunned.

From Tweeter to Terrorist: Combatting Online Propaganda When Jihad Goes Viral

Donna Farag


From Tweeter to Terrorist: Combatting Online Propaganda When Jihad Goes Viral


More than 6,900 Westerners have traveled to Syria as foreign fighters for terrorist organizations, most notably ISIS. At least 150 of the foreign fighters were from the United States, and as of February 2017, 109 Americans have been charged with crimes related to supporting ISIS. This Note explores ISIS’s organized social mediacampaigns and its success in attracting Western recruits. It discusses proposals to curb ISIS’s online impact and the constitutional implications of the government adopting such proposals. This Note argues that in limited situations, judicial review of the government’s content based regulations over social media algorithms to combat terrorist propaganda should be subject to only intermediate — rather than strict — scrutiny.

Bill targeting online sex trafficking faces tech groups’ opposition

the hill.png

Bill targeting online sex trafficking faces tech groups’ opposition

Ten internet trade associations have cosigned a letter to the chairs of the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations protesting the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which the groups say erodes Communications Decency Act protections. The associations say the bill would force them to take down a high volume of user content and face heavy liability burdens.

The Hill 

Officials can’t block critics on social media platforms, court finds


Officials can’t block critics on social media platforms, court finds

Government officials violate the First Amendment in cases where they block people on social media platforms for expressing critical views, US District Judge James Cacheris found. A Virginia county official contended that a man she temporarily blocked from her Facebook page could express himself through other channels, but Cacheris held that other methods of expression do not equate to social media.