Justice Dept. Intervenes Against Trump In Lawsuit Against Social Media Giants
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department intervened this week in a lawsuit former President Donald Trump filed against social media companies Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube.
Trump accuses the companies of violating his First Amendment right to free speech by banning his postings after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump’s lawsuit also attacks a federal regulation that gives the companies control over information third parties post on their websites. The lawsuit argues that section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is unconstitutional.
The Justice Department’s court filing says that because Trump is suing based on federal law, the government has a right to intervene.
“The United States has an unconditional statutory right to intervene ‘[i]n any action . . . wherein the constitutionality of any Act of Congress affecting the public interest is drawn in question[.],’” the government’s court filing says while citing federal law.
Even before Trump filed his lawsuit, Section 230 fell under criticism in Congress and in the courts.
Critics of the social media companies say it allows them to control the information accessed by hundreds of millions of people daily but shields them from liability when they make poor choices. They have been accused of censorship by Trump and other conservatives.
President Joe Biden has called for Section 230 to be revoked. He also said that without better regulation of content, social media sites sometimes allow misinformation to be transmitted.
A recent example emerged when the first COVID-19 vaccines became available late last year. Anti-vaxxers incorrectly posted information on Facebook and Twitter saying they were dangerous and unnecessary, potentially frightening away people who later became infected and died.
The Big Tech companies say eliminating Section 230 would expose them to unending lawsuits.
The result could be court-ordered content that violates First Amendment rights of the media, company executives said during recent congressional hearings. It also could force companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google out of business.
Trump seeks a court order that would restore his social media accounts as well as giving him punitive damages. The lawsuit was originally filed in federal court in Florida but the companies convinced a judge to switch it to California.
The lawsuit also names chief executive officers Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Sundar Pichai of Google and Alphabet as defendants.
They argue in court filings that Trump’s class action lawsuit lacks merit because the First Amendment provisions he accuses them of violating apply to government entities, not private corporations.
The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”
Facebook and Twitter argue that they were not trying to curtail his free speech but to prevent further violence. Trump incited his supporters minutes before the Jan. 6 insurrection by saying voter fraud created a “rigged election” that gave the presidency to Biden.
Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by... Read More
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by the federal government and private employers requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The federal mandate announced by President Joe Biden last fall takes effect next... Read More
PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions... Read More
PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions sought because of fetal abnormalities. The coalition contends in their brief that the preservation of women’s reproductive autonomy can and should occur while simultaneously dismissing discriminatory... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar but seldom successful strategy as he seeks to end a yearslong civil investigation into his business practices that he alleges is purely political. In the lawsuit, filed... Read More
FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s... Read More
FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s choice to be treated for COVID-19 with the controversial drug ivermectin. The drug is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. The... Read More
NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a... Read More
NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a deposition next month to answer allegations regarding the Trump organization’s involvement in improperly valuing real estate assets. The request falls on top of a mountainous pile... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat”... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat” abortion law, but only against some of the originally named defendants. To the disappointment of abortion rights advocates, however, the justice declined to reverse a Sept.... Read More