Scott Wilkens is a senior staff attorney 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. Wilkens recently filed an Eleventh Circuit amicus brief on behalf of the Institute in a case challenging a Florida law that seeks to regulate the largest social media platforms. Wilkens also recently coauthored a New York Times op-ed titled “Social Media Companies Want to Co-opt the First Amendment. Courts Shouldn’t Let Them.”
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 also maintained an active public-interest docket, devoting hundreds of hours each year to pro bono work, including work focused on freedom of association, the death penalty, terrorism, habeas corpus, and due process. More recently, Wilkens has focused primarily on LGBTQ rights and specifically the rights of transgender individuals. This has included challenging 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, and discrimination in the use of public facilities in many cases, including Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Notably, Wilkens also represented the Knight Institute in its first lawsuit, a FOIA case seeking records about searches of travelers’ phones and laptops 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 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.