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Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling that found former President Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking followers on Twitter, ordering the case to be dismissed as moot now that he is no longer in office.

Between the lines: Though the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that the "unprecedented" amount of control that Twitter and other digital platforms have over speech must be addressed in the future.

What they're saying: "Twitter barred Mr. Trump not only from interacting with a few users, but removed him from the entire platform, thus barring all Twitter users from interacting with his messages," wrote Thomas, one of the most conservative justices on the court.

  • "Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties."
  • "We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms."

The big picture: Trump's use of social media has forced judges to re-evaluate the rules of political communications in the digital era, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • Twitter sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in March, seeking to halt the Trump ally's investigation into the tech giant for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the president."
  • Twitter and a host of other social media platforms banned Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Go deeper

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

2 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled— Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic — Handful of "breakthrough" COVID cases occurred in nursing homes, CDC says.
  2. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine production problems look even bigger — All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Political: Watchdog says agency infighting increased health and safety risks at start of pandemic.
  4. World: EU regulator: Benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of rare blood clots.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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