Trump Attempt To Get Back On Social Media Takes A Blow From Judge

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A federal lawsuit that former President Trump filed amid an attempt to get back on social media platforms from which he’d been booted following the January 6 insurrection has been ordered to shift from Florida to California — where the judicial terrain could be less favorable to Trump. The move was ordered by federal Judge Kevin Michael Moore, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush and the chief judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. YouTube is one of those platforms challenged by Trump and his allies in this context, and the terms of service for the site — to which all users must agree — state that legal claims related to YouTube shall be handled in the courts of Santa Clara County, California, where YouTube is headquartered.

There’s no particular indication that, wherever this case was to unfold, Trump was set to get what he wanted. Law professor — and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission — Jessica Levinson has explained how Trump’s legal arguments underlying these cases — which include lawsuits against Facebook and Twitter as well — are nonsense. Alongside other claims, Trump’s side foundationally insists that his First Amendment rights have been violated — but the protections for free speech provided by the First Amendment do not cover the actions of private companies, which have wide, legal leeway to regulate speech as it relates to them. It’s the government that is restricted from imposing stifling measures targeting speech by the amendment.

Trump’s side argues “that because Twitter is so big and powerful, benefits from a federal law, allegedly acts in agreement with government officials, that it is the government,” as Levinson summarizes — but that notion is nonsense. Levinson notes that financial concerns appear to underlie the former president’s fights against Twitter (and YouTube, etc.). Trump “has used previous lawsuits against social media companies to¬†fundraise,” Levinson pointedly notes, adding that “Heading into the 2022 midterm elections and perhaps another presidential run in 2024, his ability to fundraise will be an important predictor of the role he will continue to play in the Republican Party.”