Former President Donald Trump filed an appeal in federal court Monday in a lawsuit against former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the federal government over Twitter’s 2021 decision to permanently suspend his account.
The move came one day before the 45th president launched his campaign to return to the White House.
On Jan. 8, 2021 — two days after the U.S. Capitol incursion — Twitter announced its decision to permanently ban Trump’s account, with his over 80 million followers, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The social media giant said at the time that Trump’s tweets violated Twitter’s policies against the “glorification of violence.”
In May, San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge James Donato dismissed Trump’s lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated by Twitter’s decision.
In their Monday court filing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Trump’s attorneys sought a court order requiring Twitter to “immediately reinstate” the account, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the ban.
Concerning the federal government, the Constitution precludes it from censoring disfavored speech, Trump’s team contended, so officials do an end-around with the help of big tech.
The government holds the power to remove Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“Congress gave social media companies and other Internet denizens a golden gift enjoyed by no one else in the publishing industry: immunity from liability based on hosting or removing content on their platforms,” the brief says.
The government uses “social media platforms as cat’s paws to suppress opinions and information about matters that Americans consider of vital interest—including those that turn out to be correct or at least debatable.”
The lawyers cite Hunter Biden’s laptop, the coronavirus Wuhan lab leak theory, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine and the discussion about the integrity of 2020 election as examples where the government swayed the content of social media platforms.
“Most people once believed these to be crackpot ideas; many still do. But crackpot ideas sometimes turn out to be true. The earth does revolve around the sun, and it was Hunter Biden, not Russian disinformation agents, who dropped off a laptop full of incriminating evidence at a repair shop in Delaware,” the brief reads.
“Galileo spent his remaining days under house arrest for spreading heretical ideas, and thousands of dissidents today are arrested or killed by despotic governments eager to suppress ideas they disapprove of. But this is not the American way. We believe the path to truth is forged by exposing all ideas to opposition, debate, and discussion.”
Trump’s lawyers pointed out that Twitter had censored their client’s account multiple times prior to its decision to suspend him altogether, which they argue was detrimental to public discourse and due to threats made by government officials against social media platforms, a violation of their client’s First Amendment rights.
Trump launched his new social media platform, Truth Social, earlier this year, where he has over 4.5 million followers.
He said he has no plans to return to Twitter.
However, Trump attorney John Coale told Reuters on Monday, “We want him to have the right to get back on” Twitter.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted Friday there has been no decision yet whether to reinstate Trump.