In her ruling, the judge found that Twitter’s lawsuit was “premature,” since Paxton’s office has yet to acquire legal authority to demand the company’s internal communications.
A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Twitter against Texas Attorney Ken Paxton, who announced an investigation into the social media platform after it banned former President Donald Trump.
Twitter’s lawsuit, reports The Texas Tribune, had sought a restraining order against Paxton’s office, which is seeking documents related to Twitter’s internal communications and decision-making.
In its filing, Twitter alleged that Paxton was trying to prevent Paxton from “unlawfully abusing his authority as the highest law-enforcement officer of the State of Texas to intimidate, harass, and target Twitter in retaliation for Twitter’s exercise of its First Amendment rights.”
As a private entity, Twitter—along with other social media networks—is allowed to censor or ban users for any breach of its terms of services.
While Twitter had likely contemplated banning Trump for years, the network did not do so until the aftermath of the January 6th riots outside the national Capitol. The company’s decision came after President Trump issued a series of half-hearted, potentially inflammatory statements, in which he asked his supporters to “stand down” while tacitly supporting their actions.
Nevertheless, Judge Maxine M. Chesney found that Twitter’s complaint was “premature” at this point in Paxton’s investigation.
The Hollywood Reporter explains that, as of mid-May, Paxton’s office lacks the legal authority to enforce its requests for Twitter’s internal documents.
“Unlike the defendants in the cases on which Twitter relies, the Office of the Attorney General has no authority to impose any sanction for a failure to comply with its investigation,” Chesney wrote. “Rather, the Office of the Attorney General would be required to go to court, where the only possible consequence adverse to Twitter would be a judicial finding that the CID, contrary to Twitter’s assertion, is enforceable. Accordingly, as, to date, no action has been taken to enforce the CID, the Court finds Twitter’s lawsuit is premature, and, as such, is subject to dismissal.”
In response to Chesney’s ruling, Paxton appeared victorious, saying the company was trying to avoid answering his office’s supposedly legitimate questions.
“Twitter’s lawsuit was little more than an attempt to avoid answering my questions about their large-scale censorship and content-moderation policies,” he said in a statement.
Paxton, adds the Texas Tribune, had been sowing doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election—and had, in fact, attended one of the rallies immediately preceding the Capitol riots.
Recently, he has begun aggressively criticizing other technology companies which have either de-platformed or spoken out against President Trump and other conservative figures.
“The seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President of the United States and several leading voices not only chills free speech, it wholly silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies,” Paxton said in a January news release.