Judge dismisses Donald Trump’s Twitter lawsuit

Fox Business reports that a federal judge has just dismissed the lawsuit that former President Donald Trump brought against Twitter. 

The lawsuit stemmed from Twitter’s decision to ban Trump from the platform following the Capitol protest of Jan. 6, 2021. Those leading the social media platform at the time claimed that Trump’s ban was needed to prevent further violence from taking place.

Trump responded with a lawsuit that he filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Twitter, though, managed to get the case transferred to a federal court in San Francisco, California, the idea being that a San Francisco judge would likely be more willing to rule in its favor than a Florida judge.

This turned out to be true.

The ruling

Trump, in the lawsuit, put forth various arguments. One argument is that in banning his account Twitter violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Those with even a rudimentary knowledge of the law will know that the First Amendment does not apply to private companies. But, here, Trump was arguing that Twitter, in a sense, gave up its private entity status by working with the federal government to suppress so-called COVID misinformation, something that even the Biden administration has admitted to doing.

U.S. District Court Judge James Donato, however, wasn’t having any of Trump’s arguments. He, on Friday, granted a motion from Twitter to dismiss the lawsuit on the ground that the First Amendment does not apply to private companies.

The case, though, is not over. First of all, Trump has been given the option to amend his complaint by the end of the month. And then, Trump always has the option to appeal perhaps to a court not located in San Francisco.

It is unclear how the former president plans to proceed.

Background

For some, Trump’s whole lawsuit is moot now that Elon Musk has acquired Twitter and vowed to turn it back into a free speech zone. But, others argue that there are still important points to be litigated here.

Besides the First Amendment issue, for example, there is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump, in the lawsuit, argues is unconstitutional. Section 230, in short, stops a company like Twitter from being liable for something said by users of its site. Those in favor of ending Section 230 argue that Twitter forfeited its Section 230 protection when it started regulating speech.

Thus, the purpose of Trump’s lawsuit going forward could be to litigate controversial issues like this one. We’ll have to see how this one plays out. Trump has yet to issue a statement in response to Donato’s ruling.

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