Biden Administration Intervenes In Donald Trump's Silly Lawsuit Against Twitter To Defend Section 230

from the good-for-them dept

As you’ll recall, a few months ago, former President Donald Trump sued Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube claiming that his own government violated the 1st Amendment… because those three private companies kicked him off their services for violating their policies. Yes, the premise of the lawsuit is that while he was president, the actions of three private companies somehow proved that the government (which he ran) was violating his rights. The lawsuits are nonsense and they have not gone well for Trump at all. Part of the (very) ridiculous argument is that Section 230 is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit against Twitter was recently transferred from Florida (where Trump filed it) to the Northern District of California (where Twitter wanted it), and now the Justice Department has said it will be entering the case specifically to defend the constitutionality of Section 230.

The United States is entitled to intervene in this action under the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and by statute. Rule 5.1(c) permits the Attorney General
to intervene in an action where, as here, the constitutionality of a federal statute is
challenged. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.1(c). Rule 24 further permits a non-party to
intervene when the non-party “is given an unconditional right to intervene by a
federal statute.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(1). The United States has an unconditional
statutory right to intervene “[i]n any action . . . wherein the constitutionality of any
Act of Congress affecting the public interest is drawn in question[.]” 28 U.S.C. §
2403(a). In such an action, “the court . . . shall permit the United States to intervene
. . . for argument on the question of constitutionality.” Id. Here, Plaintiffs have
“drawn in question” the constitutionality of 47 U.S.C. § 230(c), and the United
States has an unconditional right to intervene to defend the statute.

This is, of course, slightly interesting, because President Biden himself has called for “revoking” Section 230 and the DOJ has an unfortunate recent history of terrible ideas around Section 230. So, there was at least some fear that perhaps they wouldn’t bother to defend the law.

Still, the DOJ likely realizes what a horrible precedent such a case could present, even if it doesn’t fully agree with the law, so it’s good to see them step in and defend the law. That said, it’s hard to believe that any judge would actually take the ridiculous claims in the lawsuit seriously.

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Comments on “Biden Administration Intervenes In Donald Trump's Silly Lawsuit Against Twitter To Defend Section 230”

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60 Comments
Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Good on Biden.

Politicians in general tend to give zero fscks about high principles and none more so than american ones – with Bernie being that very rare exception from what I can tell.

That said, democrat politicians more often align with humanitarian principles because their base, at least shallowly claim to subscribe to those principles. Thus it’s more likely that a democrat will cave to the pressure and occasionally do a righht thing than it is for a republican whose base consists of people willing to vote for self-harm as long as it may cause the libs grief.

You probably shouldn’t be that disillusioned. The dems still seem unable to balance the demands of their campaign contributors against the demands of potential voters. It’s pretty clear by now that if Trump is the would-be unhinged Dear Leader motivated entirely by narcissism and ambition Biden is still carrying water for large corporations to a worrisome degree.

What the US really needs and would get the dems a lot more wins would be to get out there and start trying to take the rurals away from the GOP. Because ironically most rural areas rely heavily on socialist principles for their daily lives, and the working class desperately needs union worker protection laws and raising the minimum wage to where it actually is a living wage.

And someone really needs to break the wall of shame and point out that living wages, social services, universal health care and unionization is the default in all of the EU and the rest of the world – and somehow the rest of the world manages that just fine without turning into the socialist hellhole right-wing radicals keep trying to imply the US would turn into if – god forbid – the US even tried to do what everyone else can successfully accomplish easily.

So keep on being disillusioned. Biden did a brief 180 because fact and logic served his reasons here. He’ll swing back to undercutting 230 as soon as this crisis is dealt with and forgotten.

MightyMetricBatmansays:

In this corner we have Twitter, the company of 240 characters and a BILLION BILLION MESSAGES!

In this corner we have the entire US Federal Government, over 10 trillion debt, and an army of attorneys at their disposal!

In this corner we have a fat orange fool of a trump.

Strangely, I’m voting for the giant corporation and the government. What a world.

Carsonsays:

Re: Here Comes Da Judge

…you left out the Federal Judges handling this lawsuit.

If this Trump lawsuit is so very "obviously" bullschitt — Why did not the presiding judge immediately dismiss it when filed with the court ??

Other judges then considered the lawsuit to have enough legal merit to transfer it from Florida to California.

Trump and his lawyers are alleging Federal Government collusion with FB/Twitter/Utube to censor him– that’s where the 1st Amendment angle arises.
And there seems to be some circumstantial evidence of such collusion.

Section 230 stuff is another allegation in the lawsuit, but 230 has certainly been a highly controversial issue long before Trump involvement here.
There’s been strong 230 concerns from Democrats, Republicans, others — it’s not bizarre that Federal Judges might see it as a legitimate issue to at least consider.

If some Federal Judges think Trump’s lawsuit at least has legal standing in court — that should give the reflexive trump-bashers some pause.

Rockysays:

Re: Re: Here Comes Da Judge

Trump and his lawyers are alleging Federal Government collusion with FB/Twitter/Utube to censor him– that’s where the 1st Amendment angle arises.

Trump himself made sure he doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on when he blocked users (which actually was a light form of government censorship) on Twitter and the subsequent outcome of Knight Institute vs Trump meant that his social media accounts was considered a "public forum" as long as he was president.

The moment Trump wasn’t a president anymore the 1A rights of the companies kicked in and they could then choose to associate with him or not.

What Trump is asking for in this case is that the companies should be forced to associate with Trump who regularly breaks their TOS and community standards. Regardless of section 230 anyone is free to choose who they want to associate with or not, 230 just make it clear that they can make that choice without being mired in costly lawsuits.

And there seems to be some circumstantial evidence of such collusion.

And that circumstantial evidence is what? I can say that there’s circumstantial evidence that Trump is a rapist and I can actually cite the evidence given by Ivanka Trump, Jill Harth, E Jean Carroll, Summer Zervos and Alva Johnson. Further, Trump own words ("grab them by the pussy") can be seen as the words of a rapist. None of this is of course relevant to the case at hand, but when someone says there is "circumstantial evidence" but refrain to cite it, it is usually just bullshit.

Other judges then considered the lawsuit to have enough legal merit to transfer it from Florida to California.

No, what happened was that Florida wasn’t the right venue and Twitter quite correctly asked for the case to be transferred to California.

Section 230 stuff is another allegation in the lawsuit, but 230 has certainly been a highly controversial issue long before Trump involvement here.

Only by people who don’t understand the 1A and section 230 or by people who actively mischaracterize it because they have a political agenda.

There’s been strong 230 concerns from Democrats, Republicans, others — it’s not bizarre that Federal Judges might see it as a legitimate issue to at least consider.

There’s certainly a reason the DOJ is inserting themselves into this lawsuit, and it’s not because some idiot politicians have complained about something they don’t understand or like.

If some Federal Judges think Trump’s lawsuit at least has legal standing in court — that should give the reflexive trump-bashers some pause.

Why? Judges are mostly politically appointed, hence they carry a political bias in any opinions they offer, especially when it comes to politicized cases. There are numerous examples of federal judges issuing orders or opinions that are clearly politically motivated instead of being based on a neutral reading of the law.

carsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Here Comes Da Judge

Congratulations — you missed the point entirely.

The point is that the court system formally accepted Trump’s lawsuit — so it is in no way "obvious" that the lawsuit is invalid on its face.
And therefore it’s at least possible that lawsuit has some merit.

The specific merits of the case are of course debatable; that’s what courts do.

Judges control every aspect of the case.
Twitter had no power to shift the case to California, a judge made that final decision.

You see the judges here as politically corrupt.
But then which is worse for America — Corrupt Judges or a possibly frivolous lawsuit from Trump?

Trump-bashing is great sport, but you need serious perspective on the much larger issues.

Rockysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Here Comes Da Judge

Congratulations — you missed the point entirely.

No, I didn’t. Your point was that the case has merit because it wasn’t immediately dismissed which is akin to saying that your loan application will be approved just because the bank received it.

The point is that the court system formally accepted Trump’s lawsuit — so it is in no way "obvious" that the lawsuit is invalid on its face. And therefore it’s at least possible that lawsuit has some merit.
The specific merits of the case are of course debatable; that’s what courts do.

All lawsuits are formally accepted until they are dismissed, regardless of their merit which is for the court to decide. You alluded to that the case has merit because it wasn’t immediately dismissed by a judge. Perhaps it has escaped your notice that a lot of bullshit-cases actually gets a hearing where the parties can make their case before being dismissed, especially high profile cases.

Judges control every aspect of the case.
Twitter had no power to shift the case to California, a judge made that final decision.

No, judges doesn’t control every aspect of the case – there’s a reason why judges tend to follow established rules and precedence. Judges have been reprimanded for refusing to transfer cases to other venues when it’s clear the case was intentionally filed in a venue to make it harder for the defendant.

You see the judges here as politically corrupt.
But then which is worse for America — Corrupt Judges or a possibly frivolous lawsuit from Trump?

It’s you that used the word corrupt, not me. I just pointed out that judges are politically chosen which can mean they may be biased on what they do. Also, judges may allow frivolous lawsuits to proceed for the simple reason to set a precedent to stop further lawsuits of the same nature – it doesn’t imply that they actually think the case has any merit.

And in the case of "corrupt" judges, that’s actually far worse for America since it means that people are treated differently under the law. The courts in the US do seldom dispense law in an equal fashion which is a symptom of a society that’s breaking down and Trump is just one other symptom of the same and through his actions he is actively hastening it.

Side note: Anyone who thinks politically appointed judges is a good idea must also accept that people will never be treated equally under the law.

Trump-bashing is great sport, but you need serious perspective on the much larger issues.

Trust me on this, my perspective is far better than yours – I’m not an American and has no bone in this fight. What is baffling to me why ANY American would willingly support attacks on one of the most important things the US has, the first amendment and Trump’s lawsuit is such an attack.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: Re: Here Comes Da Judge

The moment Trump wasn’t a president anymore the 1A rights of the companies kicked in and they could then choose to associate with him or not.

Minor correction, his losing the election did not in any way give or allow them to regain a right or ability they didn’t have when he was still in office, they could have shown him the door at any time but chose not to.

He was restricted in how he treated his account and the users interacting with it thanks to his use of it for official government business but at no point were the platforms similarly bound as they’re not a part of the government.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Here Comes Da Judge

"I can say that there’s circumstantial evidence that Trump is a rapist and I can actually cite the evidence given by Ivanka Trump"

Minor detail but I hope that was a typo. Ivana Trump – his ex-wife – certainly alleged such.
I really hope his daughter didn’t, although judging by his general tone and their appearances together it wouldn’t really come as a surprise if she had.

Rockysays:

You know, people doesn’t have to try to write bad things about Trump – the stories literally writes themselves considering all the stupid shit Trump does to stroke his fragile ego or to cater to the idiots hanging on to every word-salad he utters.

What’s really pathetic are people like you, who apparently was born with a brain but choose no to use it in any meaningful way.

That One Guysays:

The magic code strikes again

Ugh, tell me about it, what could possibly be less newsworthy than america’s biggest sore loser/loser in general suing social media using utterly insane legal arguments that are attacking the first amendment rights of those platforms and their ability to moderate as they see fit, it’s almost enough to make you think that TD cares about the first amendment and/or mocking idiots attacking it or something.

Anonymoussays:

Re: So lame

…whenever an opportunity arises…

It isn’t our fault that ‘opportunity arises’ all the time because of what a monumental fuckup he is. You chose him, he’s a fucking moron, you know it, but you’re in too deep, and you think if you changed your tune now, we’d make fun of you. I certainly would, and you fucking deserve it. Dumbass.

Try to get behind someone that doesn’t brag about passing the fucking MOCA test, maybe? Because that alone should speak volumes.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: So lame

"…he’s a fucking moron, you know it, but you’re in too deep, and you think if you changed your tune now, we’d make fun of you. I certainly would, and you fucking deserve it."

Honestly, anyone who voted for Trump once…you could write that off to having a very bad day and/or a rageboner for punishing the democrat failure.

Twice? Well, if they change their minds later just congratulate them and note they’re prone to making serious mistakes on what ought to be dead simple matters.

And if they’ve been having the back of Dear Leader until some formative event compelled them to see the light well, just congratulate them. Agree with them that they’ve been dumb and move on. Don’t just punish them for finally trying to rejoin the race of homo sapiens sapiens.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: So lame

Don’t just punish them for finally trying to rejoin the race of homo sapiens sapiens.

Their window for their coming to Jesus moment has long since passed. If they’re still behind Trump and his toads at this point, fuck them, fuck everyone around them who contributes to their group unthink, and fuck their parents for breeding such stupid children.

These window-licking red hat morons have been given plenty of opportunities to not be dumb fucking assholes. At some point, you need to cut bait and move on.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: So lame

"These window-licking red hat morons have been given plenty of opportunities to not be dumb fucking assholes. At some point, you need to cut bait and move on."

That, too, is true. Just not constructive. At some point you’re going to face the fact that rehabilitating the US is impossible enough when a full 25% have already declared themselves A-OK with a fascist and narcissistic racist in charge without also closing the door on those trying to jettison that ship before it hits the iceberg.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So lame

without also closing the door on those trying to jettison that ship before it hits the iceberg

If they haven’t decided to leave with the water waist-high, and they’re still considering options, I’d opine those are people we could do without. It’s not constructive – but when you consider how many their irrationality have killed with respect to COVID, it does beg the question as to what good being constructive will do at this point.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So lame

"It’s not constructive – but when you consider how many their irrationality have killed with respect to COVID, it does beg the question as to what good being constructive will do at this point."

Statistically speaking the US should have lost some 50k people plus change to covid, even if the government was just sitting on their hands. Instead the administration made it a test of loyalty to actively defy basic medically advised precaution.

As a result of which the US now stands with an avoidable death toll superseding the number of US casualties in vietnam and both world wars combined.

"I’d opine those are people we could do without."

In which case…how?

Because from where I’m standing those 25% are actively opposed by…not that many, really. The saner majority may not agree with them much but I’m pretty sure most americans still think in terms of "It can’t happen here" even when those 25% are marching outside their apartment windows singing about Horst Wessel.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: So lame

"It’s lame to still see articles from Techdirt with Donald Trump’s name in it."

Well, if The Donald would just stop producing headlines-worthy nonsense we’d just treat him like GWB and push him out of sight and mind until the time comes to discuss history or when ongoing investigations produce new and hitherto unknown facts.

You see, Baghdad Bob, most sane people have attention spans longer than those of goldfish. We don’t just ignore further douchebaggery foisted on the world by some asshole just because they’re no longer trending.

Not everyone can be an alt-right shitwit without an attention span or ability to see context.

That One Guysays:

'Common sense', not nearly as common as it should be

That said, it’s hard to believe that any judge would actually take the ridiculous claims in the lawsuit seriously.

Unfortunately TD is positively riddled with stories about judges accepting the most insane legal arguments as valid so the outcome is far from as settled as it should be, such that one can but hope that a sane one will be in charge of the case this time around.

As for the DOJ stepping in to defend 230 while I’d love to think that this signals that at least they are on the right page at last regarding the law with how much hate 230’s gotten I’ll have to wait and see whether this signals something long term or it’s just a short-term stance that they’ll toss aside at their convenience.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re:

"I’m pretty sure orange man is a chaos god that rivals khorne…"

More like the anthropomorphic personification of Grift co-opting the cults of other deities. Like the Pestilential Brotherhood of Anti-vax serving Nurgle and the Proud Boys of Bigotry and Moronism serving Chaos Undivided.

The fictionary mythology of Khorne implies a berserker or at least bravery. Not to be applied to people who are too shit-scared to utter their honest opinion away from the comforting embrace of a mob of the like-minded.

Tanner Andrewssays:

Re:

how he keeps finding lawyers to write up (and submit!) his delusion of the week to the courts

Perhaps he promises to pay them. There are some attys out there who are pretty desperate, if I may judge by the advertising promotions I see.

A Trump case may look promising to a sufficiently desperate atty.

sumgaisays:

Re: Re: Re:

Didn’t he completely screw over no less than Guilliani…

The better question would be, whom has he actually paid for services rendered? I’d bet that if got to the pearly gates and St. Peter asked him to point out at least one personal trait that he had executed flawlessly, BOB (the Bumbling Orange Buffoon) would proudly proclaim that he never paid anybody for their service to him. Ever.

(Court orders notwithstanding, those were always aimed at his shell companies like the Foundation, the University, etc. He never paid anything out of his own personal checkbook.)

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"…BOB (the Bumbling Orange Buffoon) would proudly proclaim that he never paid anybody for their service to him. Ever."

That’s actually not true. Trump has done more for his friend Putin in those four years than he did for all of the US in all his life. All in exchange for a few handshakes, some kind words, and possibly those kind word being uttered to the bank which went on to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the deadbeat with a broken credit rating.

You can’t just watch Trump giving Putin a reacharound and standing ovations in that Helsinki summit and then call him a man who doesn’t pay his debts.

sumgaisays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

You can’t just watch Trump giving Putin a reacharound … and then call him a man who doesn’t pay his debts.

Oh yes I can. But it wasn’t a reacharound, it was Putin giving #45 a Dirty Sanchez!

I was more referring to those who came to him and offered to work for him, as in one or more lawyers who solicited his business. He never gave them the promised cash, check or money order. IOW, he welched on his debts. Ditto for those he called into his service, such as staff at his many properties, etc. – no moolah for them either. Ditto for his fake-reality show, many of those people were stiffed. On and on and on….

Fun Fact: No one knows, nor can they anyone count that high, just how many lawsuits #45 currently faces, or has faced in the past, for unpaid compensation. ‘Struth!

If he hired workers who believed in him just like his alleged "base", he wouldn’t just save cash (’cause he never paid them anyways), he’d be getting money from them just so they could say that they worked for "God". Given that scenario, it’s likely that none of his concerns would’ve had to close.

<My personal opinion>
Personally, I think we should come up with something like a debtor’s prison, only for asshelmets who refuse to pay their debts when they certainly could (and not for actually poor people who physically can’t pay their debts). I’d pay good money, damnably good money, for the right to name the first one of these. Of course, you can already guess that I’d name it after the first inmate, #45 himself. You could say that he rightly owned that property!
</opinion>

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I was more referring to those who came to him and offered to work for him, as in one or more lawyers who solicited his business. He never gave them the promised cash, check or money order. IOW, he welched on his debts…"

Oh, I know his history. To be fair though the chance does exist that as a loyal longtime friend of Russia most of what he did was quite in accordance with his calling. I don’t see many russians among those he stiffed. Mainly americans. Why go after him for sucker-punching the enemies of his country?

I mean, he was the best US president Russia ever had. You can’t take that away from him.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re:

"A Trump case may look promising to a sufficiently desperate atty."

Well, a smart atty would be capable of gaining employment some way, as would someone with a good reputation.

But for the unscrupulous ones bereft of even second-class legal skills but in possession of low cunning…represent Trump and write your bills off as "marketing expenses" while shouting your name as loudly as possible, hoping to attract the eye of the base willing to give their last dollar to the "personal attorney of Dear Leader"?

You’d have to lack pride and a sense of shame but if your career is at a dead end anyway you might as well go full Liebowitz and double down on a venture where you won’t get paid but stand a good chance of roping in a horde of gullible clients.

Anonymoussays:

Lawyers pay people to destroy reputations of their adversaries, which is why they defend a law that allows for individual reputations to be ruined and acts like this isn’t even occurring. America is the only country with Section 230.

Wait until a judgment-proof person with nothing to lose starts dropping their own little tidbits into search engines.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re:

"America is the only country with Section 230."

…because America is one of the very few countries which doesn’t have third-party neutrality built right into their basic telecommunications acts.

This has been explained to you quite a few times, Baghdad Bob and yet somehow you persist in flogging that dead horse.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah. Baghdad Bob keeps trying to bring up Australia – which is one of those rare countries lacking a decent telecommunications act.

And, if I had to venture a guess, never will obtain one given the demonstrated technological illiteracy of people who decided to outlaw the creation of code without government backdoors, forcing what IT industry the aussies had to die stillborn.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

Wait until a judgment-proof person with nothing to lose starts dropping their own little tidbits into search engines.

You keep harping on and on about "judgment-proof" people and yet you’ve never been able to specify who they are, or why they’re "judgment-proof". From the tidbits you’ve scattered over the past few years there are a few possibilities:

  • People outside the US. This is meaningless. Removing Section 230 would not stop people from other countries from disagreeing with you and posting negative feedback, or give you permission to start interfering with their discourse. The same applies to making platforms responsible for the nonsense of their users, but this has already been explained to death to you.

  • People who would not be prosecuted against for compassionate reasons, such as the disabled or homeless. I’m sure this sounded like a fantastic idea in your head at the time, but here’s the thing – why would a lawyer, or anyone, rely on leveraging people who are less likely to have consistent online habits to review bomb, and leave credible negative reviews at that? You might argue that people are dumb and will believe anything they read online, but leaving the general public aside, do you genuinely think that if a judge was presented with this scenario of an unrelated, disabled homeless third-party posting defamatory statements about a plaintiff, this won’t raise any alarm bells? Do you actually think a lawyer who pulls this sort of move won’t have this tracked back to them, or at the very least put his client in a highly unfavorable light? Do you actually think a lawyer who does this will be free from consequences when he’s found out, just because Section 230 exists?

  • People who take action based on lies they see online. If you think that people acting in supposed good faith because of misinformation they read online are protected by the law, there’s a slew of Jan 6th insurrectionists who’d like a word with you. But seeing that you were banking so hard on Donald Trump to destroy Section 230 for you, one suspects you’re already on very close speaking terms with said group.

One last point on why this supposed "wait until" scenario doesn’t work: you’d have already used it on this site that you hate so much.

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