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Taylor Swift Gets More Supreme Court Mentions By Judges – Billboard

Written by on 01/11/2023

It seems that even some members of the U.S. Supreme Court are Swifties.

Capping off a year in which Taylor Swift’s name has repeatedly been mentioned on Capitol Hill, at the Department of Justice and on NFL broadcasts, it came up Tuesday during Supreme Court arguments in a major case over social media and the First Amendment.

As part of a legal hypothetical aimed at probing the questions in the case, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asked an attorney from the U.S. solicitor general’s office a question about how court should “evaluate a government employee controlling access to private property.”

“What if we have, you know, a big concert, Taylor Swift has a big concert in a private … area, a park something, and the police recognize there are going to be large crowds, et cetera, and so they come and they help with the screening of the bags and they, you know, kick out people who are rowdy,” Jackson asked. “Because it’s private, we would say that’s not state action?”

The case before the justices (Lindke v. Freed) is about whether or not public officials, including presidents, can block users on social media platforms like Facebook. Put another way: When is a government employee’s use of social media a “state action,” which is tightly governed by the First Amendment? And when is it just the action of a private citizen, which is not?

In her question, Jackson was trying to use the Taylor concert to illustrate the difficulty of pinpointing that dividing line, and testing one theory advanced by solicitor general’s office. Police are obviously agents of the government, but would their actions during such a private Swift concert not be an action by the state?

In her answer, Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Masha Hansford said the officers’ actions should still be treated as “state action” even at the Swift concert, since they would still be “carrying out their official duties.” But Justice Jackson pushed the question further.

“But Taylor Swift could have hired [a private security guard],” Jackson said. “I mean, they’re not doing anything more than a private security guard could have done, right? So what makes it that they are [engaging in] state action?”

Though Swift herself has never been directly involved in a Supreme Court case, Tuesday’s arguments were not the first time her name has come up at SCOTUS.

During arguments in a different case back in 2021, the justices repeatedly cited Swift’s lawsuit against a Denver radio DJ named David Mueller, who the superstar had claimed groped her at photoshoot. In that case, Swift sought only sought $1 in so-called “nominal damages” against Mueller – a legal tactic used in cases in which litigants want to prove a point but aren’t seeking a big payday.

The 2021 case before the justices dealt with that very same issue, and they repeatedly raised Swift’s case as a comparison.

“I’m not really interested in your money,” Justice Elena Kagan at the time, speaking from Swift’s point of view. “I just want a dollar, and that dollar is going to represent something both to me and to the world of women who have experienced what I’ve experienced.”

“What Taylor Swift wanted was, you know, vindication of the moral right, the legal right, that sexual assault is reprehensible and wrong,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett added later during the same arguments.

Maybe Swift’s case had an impact: Two months later, the Supreme Court ruled that litigants could indeed sue over the same kind of nominal damages Taylor had won against Mueller.

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