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Mar-A-Lago Menace Sues Twitter for Reinstatement—Fat Chance!

The previous occupant of the White House is asking a federal court in Florida to force Twitter to allow him to resume posting his baloney to their website.

I’m not going to waste my breath refuting the lies suffusing Trump’s claims. The primary legal point is this: the First Amendment, the foundation of this lawsuit, does not grant anyone the right to compel speech by private actors.

I own Dakota Free Press. I have banned a handful of commenters from this blog. I daily intercept and delete comments from anonymous and non-responsive commenters, and I occasionally delete comments I find uninstructive. The authors of those blocked comments have no legal recourse to force me to publish their statements. If you have something to say that I won’t post, tough shiskey: get your own blog. (And no, the fact that you suck at blogging does not give you the right to force another blogger or online channel to publish your dreck.)

South Dakota’s newspapers are all privately owned. They pay for their own ink and gasoline and web hosting to transmit the news they find fit for our doorsteps. While they certainly serve the public interest by covering the news, they are not obliged to report on every local grievance that individuals may bring to their attention. Some issues just aren’t newsworthy, and the owners of the newspapers get to make that call.

Our TV and radio stations operate with federal broadcast licenses. They can use the airwaves to transmit their messages solely with the permission of the public. Our licensed broadcasters have a legal obligation to serve the public interest, but KELO, KOTA, and Dakota Broadcasting are not required to point their mics and cameras at any crank on the street demanding attention.

Twitter is a private company. It has a lot of reach. But even if we rewrote FCC rules to consider Twitter a broadcaster using public Webwaves to spread its messages and make money, courts could not compel Twitter to publish Donald Trump’s lies any more they could compel Twitter to restore the accounts of domestic terrorists or Russian psy-ops agents trying to undermine American democracy.

If Twitter and other private publishers in the United States have any obligation, it is to call out and quash liars and agents of destruction like the menace from Mar-a-Lago.

9 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2021-10-03

    Democrats should end the filibuster then if they fall into the minority the lame duck Senate can restore it, easy peasy.

    After they removed Hillary Clinton before the 2018 midterms there is no way in Hell the GOP would have given a President Tim Kaine the time to choose a Veep so here’s a Sunday nightmare scenario for those who slept through civics. The Speaker of the House doesn’t need to be an incumbent member of Congress so if the Republicans regain the House of Representatives they could elect Trump as Speaker then assassinate POTUS Biden and VPOTUS Harris and Trump would become Chief Executive.

  2. bearcreekbat 2021-10-03

    Cory, I too wondered how in the world the mar-a-lago menance’s lawyers proposed to satisfy the requisite “state action” for a 1st Amendment legal claim, without getting themselves in the Sidney Powell frivolous claim soup with all the dangers of financial sanctions, disbarment, etc.

    The SCOTUS has previously set out three possible paths to finding the required “state action” when considering the conduct of a private party:

    . . .
    First, . . . “[t]he mere fact that a business is subject to state regulation does not, by itself, convert its action into that of the State for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment.” . . . The complaining party must also show that “there is a sufficiently close nexus between the State and the challenged action of the regulated entity so that the action of the latter may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.”

    . . . The purpose of this requirement is to assure that constitutional standards are invoked only when it can be said that the State is responsible for the specific conduct of which the plaintiff complains. The importance of this assurance is evident when, as in this case, the complaining party seeks to hold the State liable for the actions of private parties.

    Second, although the factual setting of each case will be significant, our precedents indicate that a State normally can be held responsible for a private decision only when it has exercised coercive power or has provided such significant encouragement, either overt or covert, that the choice must in law be deemed to be that of the State. . . . Mere approval of or acquiescence in the initiatives of a private party is not sufficient to justify holding the State responsible for those initiatives under the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment. . . .

    Third, the required nexus may be present if the private entity has exercised powers that are “traditionally the exclusive prerogative of the State.” . . .

    Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004-05 (1982)

    Ironically, here the argument seems to be that the ban violates “Florida’s new social media law” rather than the ban being compelled or sanctioned by state law. Anyway, it will be interesting to learn more about the state action legal theory of the lawyers for the “very stable genuis” as this story unfolds.

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-10-03

    Just think of all the business the twitterer in chief would give them. They should be twttered to death to have him. So what if it’s 90% lies, Republicans don’t care and it makes real Americans grate.

  4. Scott 2021-10-03

    Just another of Trump’s scams to raise money for himself.

    It would be interesting to know how much money Trump has raised post election?

  5. Richard Schriever 2021-10-03

    No Internet traffic is carried on public wires, or fibres. ALL of the mechanisms involved in the operation of the ‘net are PRIVATE. Every last molecule of them.

  6. mike from iowa 2021-10-03

    Lin Wood, another former drumpf attorney, has come out and said no planes hit the WTC and Bush scammed America. My apologies for OT.

  7. Richard Schriever 2021-10-03

    Tangentially, Trump’s 757 is going to be auctioned off due to his failure(s) to; 1. maintain it in flying condition, 2. pay the storage fees at the NY airport where it sits. Speaks so directly to his managerial and fiscal capacities.

  8. Eve Fisher 2021-10-03

    The former White House Resident has always gotten away with suing anyone and everyone – i.e., bullying by lawsuit – because he just keeps lawyers running out the clock on everything, no matter the merits of the case. Twitter is a private company with more $$$ than Trump, and more time. He’s going to be told, in legalese, to go suck eggs.

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