Supreme Court rejects appeal by Elon Musk’s X on disclosing federal surveillance

Supreme Court rejects appeal by Elon Musk's X on disclosing federal surveillance

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris on June 16, 2023.

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by the social media giant X challenging a ban on the company disclosing federal surveillance of Americans and foreign nationals using the service.

X, formerly known as Twitter, had argued that the federal government’s prohibition on the company disclosing the receipt of national security-related requests for surveillance of users was unconstitutional, and should be granted only in exceptional cases.

X is owned by the billionaire Elon Musk, who also heads Tesla and SpaceX.

The Supreme Court did not explain why it declined to take X’s appeal, nor did it reveal which and how many justices might have wanted to take the case.

The decision leaves in place a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that restrictions on free speech related to to receiving requests for surveillance related to national security concerns is not subject to certain procedural requirements that mandate judicial review.

In August, a federal appeals court decision in Washington, D.C. revealed that Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith had obtained a search warrant for the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump at the beginning of 2023 as part of Smith’s criminal investigation of Trump.

X initially delayed turning over materials sought by Smith in the warrant, and filed a sealed court challenge seeking to block an order barring the company from telling Trump or anyone else about the warrant’s existence.

X had been fined $350,000 by a federal District Court judge for contempt for failing to comply with a deadline to turn over the material.

The D.C. appeals court rejected X’s bid to overturn the contempt ruling and the nondisclosure order. X had argued that that order violated its free specech right under the Constitution to communicate with its subscriber Trump.

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