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.