Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter was dismissed by a California district judge. He said that the ex-president’s 2021 ban on the platform seems completely legal. Trump and other banned users have until May 27th, to file an amended complaint, according to the order.
Although it allows for appeals, the order is critical of the claims in the lawsuit. This suggests that any amended version will be met with resistance. The order rejects Trump’s claim that Twitter violated the First Amendment. It also rejects the claim that Section 230 under the Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional.
Judge James Donato noted in the first paragraph that “Plaintiffs do not start from a position where they are strong.” It doesn’t get better for Trump and his fellow Twitter exiles.
Trump filed suit in Florida last January, but it was later moved back to Twitter’s home State of California. Similar suits were also filed against YouTube and Meta (than Facebook). Trump was unsuccessful in his initial attempt to have Twitter restore his account. He then filed an amended complaint to try to strengthen his case.
Judge Donato ruled that Twitter was not acting as a state actor in banning Trump. Trump claimed this by noting that some lawmakers had asked Twitter to remove him.
“Legislators can freely express opinions without being considered the official voice of the State,” the ruling states. It also dismisses a “grab bag” of allegations that cite various Democratic elected officials calling to ban it. It concludes that even strident congressional commentary “fits within normal boundaries of a congressional investigation, as opposed to the threats of punitive State action.”
Trump and his co-plaintiffs didn’t show any connection between the law, their ban, and Section 230. The judge was also unable to convince them to apply the Florida-based deceptive trading practices rule in California court. Accordingly, the order concluded that Twitter likely did not violate the law. Judge Donato points out that the terms of service explicitly state that Twitter can suspend or terminate accounts at any moment for any reason. It also provides that Twitter can remove or refuse the distribution of any content. These provisions are not misleading or cagey.
Trump was not more successful in trying to apply Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act. This rule is currently bound up in courts.
Trump cannot add any new claims to an amended file. Barring any dramatic shifts in the judge’s reasoning, the final decision will look much like this. Twitter could still restore Trump’s account voluntarily — and following its purchase from billionaire Elon Musk. It’s possible. However, the case is just one of many many legal failures suffered by people who use social media networks for their bans.