A California judge has dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter for banning him.
Twitter banned Trump while he was still in office, two days after the January 6 protest at the Capitol. The company claimed that they did so to mitigate “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
U.S. District Judge James Donato, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said that Trump’s claims that Twitter was violating his First Amendment rights did not work against a private company.
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, according to a report from The Hill.
“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 ruled. “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’.”
Trump had argued that Twitter was acting on behalf of lawmakers who wanted him to be banned.
“The comments of a handful of elected officials are a far cry from a rule of decision for which the State is responsible,” Donato wrote. “Legislators are perfectly free to express opinions without being deemed the official voice of ‘the State.’”
The lawsuit was originally filed in Florida, but was moved to California where Twitter is based.
Trump now has until May 27 to file an amended complaint. Trump’s lawyer, John Coale, told the San Francisco Chronicle that they would be appealing the decision.
“This was totally expected, an Obama appointee in San Francisco,” Coale said. “We’ve said since July 7 (when the suit was filed) that it was going to go up through the appeals court to the Supreme Court, and that’s where it’s going to be decided.”
The lawsuit was filed prior to Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform. Trump has since said that he would not rejoin the platform and will instead focus on his own, Truth Social.
Before being banned, Trump had 88.7 million followers on Twitter.