Former President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit in Florida asking a federal judge to force Twitter to reinstate his account. In Friday’s filing, the 45th President of the United States argues that being banned from Twitter violates the First Amendment.
Trump’s attorneys contend that Twitter “exercises a degree of power and control over political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate.”
The filing says Twitter’s “censorship and prior restraint” of his speech “violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
“Coerced by members of the United States Congress, operating under an unconstitutional immunity granted by a permissive federal statute, and acting directly with federal officials, Defendant is censoring Plaintiff, a former President of the United States,” the filing reads.
The filing quotes defense attorney and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, “[p]laintiff’s right to speak freely has been seriously compromised by … Twitter. Moreover, the rights of his audience to have access to his views have also been curtailed.”
The filing also claims that Twitter has selectively enforced its policies, noting that high-ranking members of the Taliban have active accounts on the social media site.
“Over the weeks that followed, Twitter allowed the Taliban to tweet regularly about their military conquests and victories across Afghanistan. The Taliban’s Twitter account is active to this day,” the filing states.
Trump’s lawyers also claim that his Twitter ban also violates the Stop Social Media Censorship Act – a social media law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May.
The law states, “All Floridians treated unfairly by Big Tech platforms will have the right to sue companies that violate this law — and win monetary damages.” Additionally, social media companies are “prohibited from de-platforming Floridian political candidates” or face fines of $250,000 per day.
However, the law was blocked by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on June 30 – one day before it was set to go into effect.
“The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed too large and too liberal,” Hinkle wrote in the 31-page order. “Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate government interest.”
The DeSantis administration appealed the judge’s decision and is waiting to see if the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will lift the injunction.
Trump was banned from Twitter two days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which the social media companies claimed Trump incited violence by challenging the results of the 2020 election.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the micro-blogging platform said.
At the time he was banned, Trump had more than 88 million Twitter followers.
Trump is also suspended from Facebook until at least Jan. 7, 2023.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in March that the video-sharing platform would lift its suspension on Trump’s channel when it determines the “risk of incitement to violence” has decreased. Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of YouTube and Google.
In July, Trump launched a class action lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
“Today, in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I’m filing as the lead class action representative a major class action lawsuit against the Big Tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as their CEOs,” Trump said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.