Supreme Court won’t review X’s request to disclose feds’ national security probe details

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The Supreme Court on Monday rejected X Corp.’s request to disclose to its users how many times the federal government has sought account communications for national security investigations.

The social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling against allowing the company to disclose the spying-related information. The justices rejected that appeal.

It would have taken four justices to vote in favor of hearing X Corp. v. Merrick B. Garland.

The legal battle began in 2014, when Twitter sought to disclose to its users how many times the federal government in a six-month period had served the company with national security demands for surveillance investigations, requiring Twitter to turnover various information.

The FBI had denied the company the authority to disclose that information to its users, and Twitter sued, arguing that move ran afoul of the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against X, reasoning that the speech restrictions could be upheld due to a compelling government interest for national security.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal leaves that ruling in place.

Civil liberties organizations had argued the high court should take up the dispute.

“The consequences of the lower court’s decision are severe and far-reaching. It carves out, for the first time, a whole category of prior restraints that receive no more scrutiny than subsequent punishments for speech— expanding officials’ power to gag virtually anyone who interacts with a government agency and wishes to speak publicly about that interaction. These are matters of exceptional importance and public concern,” read a brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, urging the justices to hear the dispute.

The federal government had told the high court through its filing that the justices should not review the 9th Circuit’s ruling, reasoning that secrecy is important to national security surveillance and investigations.

The brief noted that the FBI reviewed Twitter‘s report it planned to disclose to users and found classified information in the document.

“Information about national security process generally is classified,” the feds’ brief read. “Accordingly, the secrecy provisions set forth above generally prohibit the disclosure of information related to the receipt of national security letters and FISA orders.”

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