Trump Legal Team: Social Media Giants 'State Actors' Censoring Americans
By Fran Beyer | Monday, 30 August 2021 01:17 PM
A lawyer for former President Donald Trump in his lawsuits against tech giants says Facebook, Twitter and others are “state actors” — and legally vulnerable under standards applied to governments.
Lawyer John Coale argues the government is essentially deputizing social media companies Google, Twitter and Facebook to censor Americans — and predicts the case will land in the lap of the Supreme Court, Fox News reported Monday.
"The basis for all of this case is that private companies cannot be empowered by the government via Congress, via [Section] 230," to censor people, Coale told the news outlet. "The Biden administration and members of Congress can't delegate what they cannot do themselves."
"This issue will in the end be decided in the Supreme Court, it's that important,” he said.
Coale has also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Google, which owns YouTube, to force it to let Trump back on its platform.
The legal action was filed on Aug. 24 in District Court for the Southern District of Florida, former Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s America First Policy Institute announced.
“The case will present a clear set of facts that highlights how Big Tech is working with and being coerced by the Federal Government to censor and eliminate the voices of millions of Americans,” Pam Bondi of AFPI said in statement. “By taking this action against the Defendants, President Trump and the men and women of the class will restore hope and faith in the justice system.”
According to Fox News, Trump’s legal team is arguing the companies can be treated like the government because they are allegedly acting “based on pressure, encouragement or willfully in concert with the government.”
The request for a preliminary injunction included examples of alleged pressure, encouragement and cooperation between the company and government officials, according to Fox News, which posted the 88-page legal document.
Among the examples are comments and proposed bills from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., that take a tough stance against alleged social media misinformation, Fox News reported.
Trump's lawyers also say the social media companies' allegedly inconsistent application of their standards reduces their protection under doctrines like Section 230. The motion highlights comments made by Democrats on social media platforms that allegedly are similar — or worse — than those made by Trump.
One of the examples is a June 2018 comment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asking why there "aren't uprisings all over the country" over the treatment of children on the southern border. Another is a 2020 comment from Vice President Kamala Harris, then a Senator from California, condemning violent protests but saying demonstrations over police brutality are "not going to let up – and they should not."
Coale told Fox News it’s likely motions for preliminary injunctions against Twitter and Facebook will be filed as well.