Twitter, Inc. v. Garland

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 03-06-2023
  • Case #: No. 20-16174
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Bress, C.J. for the Court; VanDyke, C.J. concurring; & Bea, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Electronic communication service providers that are recipients of national security process are bound by statute to protect and not disclose classified information arising from that process.

Plaintiff appealed summary judgment for the United States in Plaintiff’s action that the FBI restrictions on Twitter's publication of classified information it obtained as a party to national security processes seeking Twitter user data violated Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.  On appeal, Plaintiff argued Defendants violated the First Amendment by limiting the information Twitter could publish without Defendants redactions.  Plaintiff further claimed under Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 (1965), federal statutory requirements provided insufficient procedural protections of their First Amendent rights and violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by denying their counsel access to classified materials to properly defend their suit. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was bound by statutory nondisclosure requirements to safeguard classified information obtained by national security, and full disclosure of that information would jeopardize national security interests. Defendants met their burden under NSL to make a particularized inquiry and narrowly proscribe the redacted content to meet the compelling interest of national security. In re Nat’l Sec. Letter (“NSL”), 33 F.4th (9th Cir. 2022).  Freedman does not apply because Defendants have legitimate authority to safeguard classified government information. Lastly, Plaintiff’s due process rights were not violated because “‘[t]he government may withhold classified information that truly implicates national security as long as it undertakes reasonable measures to mitigate the potential unfairness’ to plaintiff.” Kashem v. Barr, 941 F.3d 358, 380 (9th Cir. 2019). AFFIRMED. 

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