Last Thursday, Twitter filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security to protect the anonymity of the owner of @ALT_USCIS, one of many government parody accounts that have sprung up since the 2016 election purportedly authored by current or former government employees dissenting from Trump Administration policies. Over the course of the last two months, @ALT_USCIS posted numerous tweets critical of the administration’s aggressive immigration policies and of waste and mismanagement at the department.

The DHS had issued a summons in March compelling Twitter to hand over records that would easily permit the department to identify the Twitter user responsible for @ALT_USCIS, including the user’s physical and online address. The order was a rare “administrative summons,” meaning that it required no prior court review under a federal law that gives DHS the narrow authority to demand records related to the importation of merchandise. In a way, this provision is similar to “national security letters,” which are also issued in secret without prior court review, but it covers a much broader universe of records. This use of the provision, which should be limited to the mission of the U.S. customs service, was highly irregular in that it attempted to identify and presumably punish a dissenter.

Twitter responded by suing the customs service, bringing the maneuver to light and prompting a severe public backlash. The day after Twitter announced the suit—and the ACLU offered to represent the Tweeter—the Department of Justice notified Twitter that DHS would not continue to pursue the summons.

While Twitter should be applauded for challenging DHS in court, there’s a tragic element to this story—the fact that the Trump Administration tried to secretly unmask a critic in the first place. The move suggests a terrifying new world for dissent and parody in Trump’s America. That the DOJ pulled the summons so quickly strongly suggests that the Trump Administration realized both that it had a public relations nightmare on its hands and that it had a shaky legal case.

The DHS summons offends a number of core First Amendment principles and should be of particular concern to the creative and artistic community. The right to dissent anonymously or through the use of a pseudonym is both well-established legally and has a long and proud history in U.S. political debate. The pro-Constitution Federalist Papers, for instance, were written by founders Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pen name “Publius.” They were written that way precisely because the issue—the ratification of the Constitution—was so controversial as to potentially invite retaliation, and perhaps physical attacks, against the authors.

Satire, humor, and parody are particularly valuable tools of political criticism and, accordingly, are often the target of retaliatory attacks by the government. As such, satire and parody receive special protections under the First Amendment—especially when they concern political matters. For instance, in a case involving the adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt (immortalized in the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt), the Supreme Court dismissed a defamation suit against Flynt brought by the evangelist Jerry Falwell after Flynt’s magazine published a parody ad that was critical of Falwell. The defamation suit, the court ruled, was barred under the First Amendment, and unless a reasonable person might actually confuse the speech as non-satirical, any similar attempt to squelch speech would also be unconstitutional.

As evidenced by the historically high ratings for Saturday Night Live today, humor will be a particularly important check against government overreach by the new administration. From Mark Twain to Thomas Nast to Jon Stewart, parody and satire are often the most powerful ways to call a wayward government to task for civil liberties abuses. It’s troubling that it took a tech giant like Twitter—and its deep legal bench—to reinforce this basic tenet of our democracy. If the Trump Administration continues to dabble in such bald censorship of its critics, what will happen in those cases when the summons goes to a company or individual without the same public and financial clout?