Scott Wilkens is senior counsel at the Knight First Amendment Institute, bringing nearly 20 years of litigation experience in private practice. He focuses primarily on freedom of speech online and government regulation of social media platforms. Most recently, Wilkens filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on the Institute’s behalf in Gonzalez v. Google, a case addressing whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects social media platforms’ use of recommendation algorithms. Wilkens also recently filed amicus briefs on behalf of the Institute in the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits in cases challenging Florida and Texas laws that restrict the power of social media companies to moderate content.
In private practice at Jenner & Block LLP, Wilkens focused largely on copyright infringement in the digital age, suing internet platforms YouTube and Google, as well as internet streaming service Aereo. Both cases resulted in groundbreaking precedents and Aereo was eventually shuttered after it lost in the Supreme Court in 2014. He also advised domestic and global corporations on a range of other matters involving internet services and technologies, intellectual property, and financial disputes.
During his time in private practice, Wilkens maintained an active public-interest docket, devoting hundreds of hours each year to pro bono work on a range of constitutional issues. He focused primarily on LGBTQ rights and specifically the rights of transgender individuals. This included representing transgender plaintiffs in a successful challenge to North Carolina’s anti-transgender law HB2, as well as submitting amicus briefs on behalf of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other national medical groups in challenges to discrimination in employment in the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County, discrimination in school athletics in the Ninth Circuit’s Hecox v. Little, and discrimination in the use of public facilities in the Fourth Circuit’s Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. Notably, Wilkens also represented the Knight Institute in its first lawsuit, a FOIA case seeking records about searches of travelers’ electronic devices at the border.
Wilkens studied political science and economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, obtained a Master of Science in international relations at the London School of Economics as a Fulbright Scholar, and received his law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Following law school, Wilkens clerked for the Honorable Raymond C. Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.