U.S. District Judge James Donato, who was nominated by former President Obama, said in his ruling that Trump’s claims that Twitter’s ban against him violated the First Amendment did not hold much water, given that the amendment only applies to the government violations of the right and not private company abridgments.
Trump’s “only hope of stating a First Amendment claim is to plausibly allege that Twitter was in effect operating as the government under the ‘state-action doctrine,’” the judge said, noting that an activity could be so heavily dominated by governmental authority that those participating in it are, by extension, accountable to the constraints of the Constitution.
“To start, the amended complaint does not plausibly show that plaintiffs’ ostensible First Amendment injury was caused by ‘a rule of conduct imposed by the government,’” Donato wrote. “The amended complaint merely offers a grab-bag of allegations to the effect that some Democratic members of Congress wanted Mr. Trump, and ’the views he espoused,’ to be banned from Twitter because such ‘content and views’ were ‘contrary to those legislators’ preferred points of view’.”
Donato also said that Twitter was not pursuing a “state rule of decision” when closing Trump’s account, in addition to several other defendants included in the lawsuit, but he said the social media platform “acted in response to factors specific to each account.”
The California judge said that Trump had until May 27 to file an amended complaint. The Hill has reached out to a Trump spokesperson for comment.
Two days after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, saying his posts posed “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Trump’s attorneys filed a preliminary injunction which sought the forced restoration of his account.