Former President Trump alleged in his lawsuit that California-based Twitter violated his rights to free speech, prompting the court to observe that the First Amendment only prohibits government censorship.
A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter, filed after the social media company banned the former president from its platform.
According to CBS News, Twitter had asked the court to dismiss the case for “failure to plausibly state a claim.”
The lawsuit, says CBS News, was filed by Trump, the American Conservative Union, and five other individuals. Collectively, they said that Twitter violated their First Amendment right to free speech by “censoring” their accounts.
“We’re demanding an end to shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing and a stop to blacklisting, banishing and cancelling that you know so well,” Trump said shortly after the lawsuit was filed. “I am confident that we will achieve a history victory for American freedom and at the same time freedom of speech.”
Notably, the First Amendment is intended to protect private citizens from government censorship.
Twitter, of course, is a private corporation—not an appendage of the United States government.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California observed that the Constitution does not afford Trump—or anyone else—the right to tweet.
While former President Trump and the co-plaintiffs alleged that Twitter acted at the behest of the government, Donato found no evidence to support their claims.
Donato also rejected the plaintiffs’ assertion that Twitter had violated two Florida statutes, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Stop Social Media Censorship Act.
Although Trump originally tried to file the lawsuit in a Florida-based district court, the venue was re-directed to California, where the social media company is headquartered.
The judge also cited Twitter’s terms of service, which state that “California law will govern all disputes that arise between Twitter and its users.”
Given Twitter’s unambiguous terms of service, Donato found that Trump’s initial venue of filing was inappropriate and that the case must remain in California’s courts.
Donato said that, even if Trump’s case could proceed, the court had concerns about the legality and practical enforceability of the Stop Social Media Censorship Act.
“There is also a major concern about the enforceability of the SSMCA,” Donato wrote.
“Florida government officials were rejoined from enforcing the SSMCA on June 30, 2021, the day before the law was set to take effect, in a well-reasoned decision issued by the Northern District of Florida,” Donato said, adding that the Florida panel found that the Stop Social Media Censorship Act had, in fact, violated the First Amendment by seeking to usurp companies’ rights to free speech.