On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) took to Twitter to express her displeasure with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), writing, “Out of 9 justices, 3 were appointed by a man who tried to overthrow the US government (& elected via minority). These 3 judges will decide if the US can force people to have babies against their wishes. Legitimacy depends on the consent of those governed. “They are destroying it.”

It wasn’t the first time that a Democrat had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the court. Numerous other lawmakers have been equally vocal across social media after the highest court in the land heard nearly two hours of arguments in the legal battle involving a Mississippi law that would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy – and which could conflict with past decisions on the abortion.

Although it may be several months before the court announces its decision in Dobbs. Jackson Women’s Health case, which could overturn Roe V. Wade, hundreds of thousands have posted comments to social media on Thursday to voice their opinion.

Twitter’s most serious discussion?

While it’s not uncommon for celebrity news and sporting events to be the subject of a large response on social media platforms, the topic of Supreme Court received nearly 400,000 tweets Thursday morning. This may indicate that the topic is becoming a serious trend. It’s likely to be the topic that has received most attention on Twitter for SCOTUS.

Scott Talan (assistant professor, School of Communication, American University, Washington, D.C.) stated that this is a series of issues being considered before a serious body.

Talan stated, “This is why social media serves a purpose in today’s world. It provides an open platform where everyone can voice their opinion and make their points.” The Supreme Court doesn’t permit cameras to be filmed during proceedings. This makes it a little mysterious. The decisions we make affect us all are made by nine of our members, wearing black robes.

Today, it is not uncommon for social media users to stay in one camp. It’s unlikely that any side will ever change the minds of those who are on the other side. In this instance, however, it is possible for the social media voices to have an influence in other ways.

Talan said that “social media” is the most powerful form of democracy. Talan said that anyone can take part in discussions and exchange their thoughts. While only about 20 percent of the American population is actually on Twitter – so it has a poor margin for registered voters – it can still allow people to try and determine what topics via tweets have merit.”

Therefore, social media can be an effective platform to have meaningful discussions.

“Twitter can serve as a ‘public sphere’ where major public debates as well as quite intimate issues – like a cancer diagnosis or intimate partner violence (IPV) can be discussed,” said Dhiraj Murthy, professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Social media can change people’s minds. This is perhaps the best way to think about it. Murthy said that the Jan 6th Capitol insurrection was an example of extreme speech. Journalists and academics concluded that Parler’s posts had been crucial in inciting the insurrection.

One person’s perception of’venting’ might be seen differently by someone else. Of course, plenty of content on social media is dismissed, ignored, skimmed, or disregarded in some way, a single tweet can actually be quite powerful – particularly if it becomes viral/spread by influencers – and, historically, there have been plenty of cases where a single tweet changes opinions,” Murthy noted. This can lead to negative consequences, such as convincing people not to have a vaccine. Social media platforms like Twitter have a public function and influence how individuals and groups view an issue. This includes everything from shootings in schools to laws regarding abortion.

Follow us on Twitter to Get Public Opinion

There is also the possibility that justices might decide what the public thinks. Although there might be hundreds at the courthouse, it is possible that thousands are sharing their thoughts on Twitter.

Talan said that although the justices are not likely to be on Twitter, their staffs could. Talan said that humans are social creatures and would like their voices heard. This might allow the public have their own discussion. This is an important issue that we have before the highest court of the land. I believe it’s more beneficial to people taking up the topic on social media.

It could highlight the potential for people to use the platform to express their opinions with legislators. Currently, however, it seems lawmakers are more often the ones trying to use the platforms as a broadcast tool – so it isn’t clear if they’re listening enough.

America is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It’s a land that encourages discussion, disagreement and debate. Talan said that from the Civil War’s beginnings, to our present day, this is how we operate. Washington’s decision-makers might consider listening to other people rather than sending out a message. Politians are too talkative and not listening, which is the main problem with politicians.

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