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Tipsheet

Trump's Lawsuit Over Twitter Ban Is Dismissed, But Door's Not Completely Closed

AP Photo/Joe Maiorana

On Friday, San Francisco federal district court Judge James Donato dismissed a lawsuit former President Donald Trump, the American Conservative Union (ACU), and five other individuals had filed against Twitter last July after the social media platform kicked him off on January 8, 2021. 

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As Dan Mangan highlighted in his reporting for CNBC, though, Judge Donato "left the door open for Trump and other plaintiffs to file an amended complaint against Twitter that is consistent with his written decision Friday to toss the lawsuit in its entirety."

Judge Donato was not convinced that Twitter had violated the plaintiff's First Amendment rights, nor that the Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional:

The judge noted, citing federal case law, that, “Twitter is a private company, and ‘the First Amendment applies only to governmental abridgements of speech, and not to alleged abridgements by private companies.’ ”

Donato rejected the notion that Twitter’s ban of Trump and the others was attributable to the government’s actions, which would be the only way to uphold the claim of a violation of the First Amendment.

“Overall, the amended complaint does not plausibly allege that Twitter acted as a government entity when it closed plaintiffs’ accounts,” Donato wrote.

The suit also asked the judge to rule that the federal Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional.

The CDA says online service providers such as Twitter cannot be held responsible for content posted by others.

Donato dismissed that claim after finding that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge the CDA. The judge said the only way they could have such standing was to show that Twitter “would not have de-platformed the plaintiff” or others but for the legal immunity conferred by the CDA when it came to content.

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Not only had Twitter asked for and been granted a dismissal, but the social media giant also successfully had the case moved to San Francisco, where they are headquartered. It had originally been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

One such claim in the lawsuit alleged that Twitter violated a Florida law, as Mangan highlighted:

Lastly, the judge dismissed a fourth claim of the suit, made under Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act.

The judge said that only one named plaintiff in the case, Dominick Latella, had an active Twitter account at the time Florida’s law took effect on July 1, 2021, and so is the only plaintiff who could conceivably have a claim under the law.

“There is also a major concern about the enforceability of the SSMCA,” Donato wrote.

“Florida government officials were enjoined from enforcing the SSMCA on June 30, 2021, the day before the law was to take effect, in a well-reasoned decision issued by the Northern District of Florida,” which found the law violated the First Amendment, the judge wrote.

This lawsuit, and the invitation to file an amended complaint comes after Trump has insisted he is not interested in returning to Twitter. CNBC's Jessica Bursztynsky had also reported that the former president told the outlet "No, I won’t be going back on Twitter." While he praised Elon Musk, who recently purchased the social media platform, Trump also said that "I was disappointed by the way I was treated by Twitter. I won’t be going back on Twitter."

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Trump is instead choosing to stay on his social media platform, Truth Social, he told Fox News at the time Musk's purchase of Twitter was announced. 

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted a reply to reporting from The New York Post, suggesting that Trump had "encouraged" him to buy the platform. 

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