Judge dismisses lawsuit against Donald Trump’s Twitter ban

A district judge in California has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter, saying that banning the former president from the platform in 2021 appears perfectly legal. The order issued today gives Trump and a group of other suspended users until May 27 to file an amended complaint.

But while it leaves the door open to an appeal, the decision is extremely critical of the lawsuit’s claims – suggesting any amended version will face an uphill battle. Specifically, the order dismisses Trump’s claims that Twitter violated the First Amendment and dismisses a claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional.

“Plaintiffs are not proceeding from a position of strength,” states Judge James Donato in the opening paragraph of his analysis. Things don’t get any better for Trump and his Twitter exiles from there.

Trump filed the lawsuit in Florida last year but was later moved to Twitter’s home state of California, as were similar lawsuits against YouTube and Meta (then Facebook). Trump failed in an early attempt to get Twitter to reinstate his account as the trial progressed and filed an amended complaint to bolster his case.

But Judge Donato found that Twitter was not acting as a state actor when Trump banned it — a claim Trump made by noting that some lawmakers had urged Twitter to remove him from the platform.

“Legislators are perfectly free to express opinions without being considered the official voice of ‘the state,'” the ruling says, dismissing a “piñata” of allegations citing various elected Democrats calling for a ban . Even strident congressional commentary, it concludes, “fits within the normal bounds of a congressional investigation, as opposed to threats of state punitive action.”

The Section 230 lawsuit failed because Trump and his joint plaintiffs failed to establish a connection between the law and its ban. They also failed to persuade the judge to apply a Florida-based rule on deceptive trading practices in a California court, and the order concludes Twitter likely didn’t violate it either. “That [terms of service] expressly states that Twitter may suspend or terminate an account “at any time and for any reason,” said Judge Donato. “It also states that Twitter may remove content or refuse to distribute it. There is nothing reserved or misleading about these provisions.”

Trump was no more successful trying to apply Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act, a rule currently bound in court anyway.

Trump cannot add new claims to an amended filing, and barring a dramatic change in the judge’s reasoning, the final decision will look very similar to this one. Twitter could still voluntarily restore Trump’s account – and after billionaire Elon Musk’s upcoming purchase, it’s a plausible outcome. But the case continues a long line of legal errors for people who are suing social networks for banning them.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/6/23060642/california-judge-dismisses-trump-twitter-ban-lawsuit-first-amendment-section-230 Judge dismisses lawsuit against Donald Trump’s Twitter ban

Fry Electronics Team

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