Donald Trump has been effectively exonerated in the January 6 investigation, despite the partisan efforts of the House of Representatives’ committee and although the FBI will never formally admit it.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been unable to find any central plot to overturn the results of the election or engage in a coup, let alone one masterminded by the former President of the United States.
“The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials,” Reuters earlier reported.
“Though federal officials have arrested more than 570 alleged participants, the FBI at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to the sources, who have been either directly involved in or briefed regularly on the wide-ranging investigations,” the report continued.
Furthermore, none of those prosecuted for the January 6 riot have been charged with “treason” or “insurrection.” It was always a ludicrous charge that the President of the United States would send an unarmed rabble to disrupt January 6 proceedings and this would mysteriously materialize into him being able to retain power.
This has not stopped the media from continuing the dishonest narrative that somehow Donald Trump was to blame for the riot, thus providing social media companies with the flimsy excuse to ban a former president from using its platforms. Now, Donald Trump is bringing his case back to court and forcing social media companies to defend their rationales, beginning with Twitter.
On Friday, Donald Trump filed a suit against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with the aim to restore his massive and influential Twitter account. Failing to restore it is a violation of his First Amendment rights, the suit argues, and is tantamount to interfering in political elections. The suit reads:
“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. On January 8, 2021, Defendant indefinitely banned Plaintiff from its platform, a major avenue of public discourse. Defendant’s censorship and prior restraint of Plaintiff’s speech violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and likewise violates Florida’s newly enacted Stop Social Media Censorship Act (“SSMCA”). Defendant 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. Defendant not only banned Plaintiff from its platform, but also extended its prior restraint to innumerable Users who post comments about Plaintiff. As Professor Alan M. Dershowitz opines: ‘[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’.”
Defendant’s censorship of Plaintiff became state action for First Amendment purposes when it resulted from “the State’s exercise of ‘coercive power,’ . . . when the State provided ‘significant encouragement, either overt or covert’” in Plaintiff’s censorship, or when Defendant acted as a “willful participant in joint activity” with the state in censoring Plaintiff. United Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass’n. 531 U.S. 288, 296 (2001) (Thomas, J., dissenting) (citations omitted). All three factors—coercion, significant encouragement, and willful participation in joint activity—are in operation here. Defendant’s censorship of Plaintiff evidences a pattern of content and viewpoint-based prior restraint, carrying the heaviest presumption against constitutional validity, and violates Florida’s newly enacted SSMCA. Thus, on both constitutional and state law grounds, Plaintiff is entitled to an injunction requiring Defendant to reinstate Plaintiff’s access to his account(s) with Defendant.”
The lawsuit then enters into the record several statements of fact before providing its conclusions:
“Defendant is liable for its own speech as well as its own actions. When Defendant works as a partner with the government to censor its Users’ First Amendment rights, Defendant is legally accountable for its deeds. … Defendant’s false statements posted on Plaintiff’s Twitter account are unfair trade and deceptive practices, as Users joined Twitter with the expectation that they would be treated fairly and without slander,” read the filing.
“While government officials are permitted to express their, or the government’s, preferences about what a private company should or should not do, they cannot exert coercive pressure on private parties to censor the speech of others,” Trump’s filing read, adding that Democratic members of Congress and President Joe Biden “have subjected social media companies and their CEOs, including Defendant, to increasing pressure to censor speech disfavored by them, and to promote their favored speech, or else face catastrophic legislative and/or regulatory consequences. … As such, Plaintiff’s censorship was an unconstitutional deprivation of Plaintiff’s free speech, in that the censorship was in response to government coercion.”
Social media companies are interfering in U.S. elections by suppressing, censoring, and silencing politicians that administrators disagree with politically. They should not be given liability protection from the federal government while continuing to engage in speech that violates the U.S. Constitution.
Donald Trump’s lawsuit would thus set a precedent that would benefit all Americans: If you are a forum for public speech, then you should have to abide by the United States’ constitutional laws.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.