PEN America Sues Donald Trump For 1st Amendment Violations In Attacking The Press

from the shall-not-be-infringed dept

PEN America, the well known human rights group that focuses on protecting freedom of expression for writers has now sued President Trump for a bunch of different attacks on the First Amendment -- using Trump's repeated tweets and threats as the key evidence in making these claims. The complaint lists out a bunch of different statements and actions by the President that PEN America argues all violate the 1st Amendment. There are four separate actions by the President described in the lawsuit, and let's go through them one by one.

First up is the President issuing an executive order about raising postal rates in retaliation against Jeff Bezos and Amazon, because Bezos (not Amazon) owns the Washington Post, and the Washington Post has been doing pretty strong reporting in revealing all sorts of Presidential misdeeds.

Defendant Trump has repeatedly threatened to use the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) and its rate structure to retaliate against Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post (also referred to as “the Post”), whose coverage he dislikes.

On April 12, 2018, he followed through on his threats by signing an Executive Order directing the Postal Service to review its rates. This Order, on information and belief, was aimed at Bezos’s company, Amazon, and was motivated by Defendant Trump’s displeasure at the reporting of Bezos’s other company, the Washington Post.

From the beginning of his campaign for President, Defendant Trump has repeatedly attacked the Post for its coverage of him, calling it biased, fictitious, and “a disgrace to journalism.” In a 2016 interview, he called the Post “a political instrument” that was writing “bad” and “wrong” stories “with no proper information,” and accused its reporters of writing a “false” book about him. He has routinely called the Washington Post “fake news” and personally attacked its writers.

During his presidency, when the Washington Post published unflattering stories about the inner workings of his Administration, Defendant Trump frequently responded with pointed denunciations of the accuracy of the Post’s work. On April 8, 2018, for example, after the Post ran a story about John Kelly’s frustrations as Chief of Staff, Defendant Trump tweeted: “The Washington Post is far more fiction than fact. Story after story is made up garbage - more like a poorly written novel than good reporting. Always quoting sources (not names), many of which do not exist. Story on John Kelly isn’t true, just another hit job!”

Defendant Trump has turned his ire over the Washington Post’s coverage into a vendetta against its owner Bezos, targeting Bezos’s main asset, Amazon, by issuing a series of threats to take governmental action that would harm Bezos and Amazon, and which were eventually acted upon.

During his campaign, Defendant Trump repeatedly threatened future action against Amazon, regularly tied to objections over the Post’s coverage. On information and belief, he did this to signal to Bezos and Amazon shareholders that he could – and would – use his official powers to adversely impact Amazon’s tax status and subject it to antitrust enforcement. As candidate Trump put it at a rally on February 26, 2016, while referring to Bezos and Amazon: “If I become president, oh do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”

There's a lot more along those lines... and then it talks about Trump's threats concerning the postal rates:

On December 29, 2017, following a Washington Post story on the Administration’s internal deliberations on how to handle “worries of a tough year ahead,” and a satirical end-of-year piece entitled “Was 2017 the end of something or just the beginning,” Defendant Trump tweeted that the Postal Service should be charging more to deliver Amazon’s packages: “Why is the United States Post Office [sic], which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!”

On information and belief, Defendant Trump has since repeatedly been told by his staff that his assertions about Amazon’s harmful impact on the Postal Service are incorrect, but he continues to repeat them.

Defendant Trump recently renewed and escalated his threats of action against Amazon following unflattering reporting in the Washington Post detailing the damage done to Trump’s family businesses by allegations involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election. Defendant Trump repeated his false claims about costs to the Postal Service and his threats to raise Amazon’s shipping rates. Once again, he left no doubt that his motivation was animus against the Post, again calling it a “lobbyist” and “weapon” for Bezos.

In a series of tweets from March 29, 2018 to April 3, 2018, Defendant Trump made repeated false statements about Amazon and issued repeated threats to raise its postal shipping rates. Over the course of these threats from President Trump, Amazon sustained a $60 billion dip in market value.

On information and belief, Defendant Trump’s attacks on Amazon were motivated by animus toward Bezos and the Washington Post on account of its coverage of him and his Administration. For example, in an April 13, 2018 article by Maya Kosoff, Vanity Fair quoted White House sources as saying that President Trump “has zero respect” for the Washington Post and wants to “[f--k] with” Bezos as a result.

On April 12, 2018, Defendant Trump followed through on his retaliatory threats, issuing an Executive Order directing a review of the Postal Service’s “unsustainable financial path.” The order included several provisions directed at Amazon, including an order to review the “expansion and pricing of the package delivery market.”

On information and belief, President Trump had by this time repeatedly and personally directed the Postmaster General to raise Amazon’s rates.

Even during the pendency of the review, Defendant Trump continued to threaten further action against Bezos and Amazon and linked his motivation clearly to the Washington Post’s coverage. On July 23, 2018, immediately following reports in the Post that President Trump was unhappy with the progress of talks with North Korea, the President tweeted that “[t]he Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court,” i.e. South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. He then renewed his threats to take antitrust action against Amazon and to raise its postal delivery rates. President Trump tweeted “Next up is the U.S. Post Office [sic] which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their ‘delivery boy’ for a BIG percentage of their packages. . . In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?”

On October 11, 2018, the Postal Service announced proposed rate hikes for its services, to include rate increases of up to 12 percent for the Parcel Select service used by Amazon. On information and belief, this action by the Postal Service would not have been taken but for the President’s clearly expressed desire to punish Amazon for the reporting of the Washington Post.

This really seems like a case where Trump's own words and tweets could potentially sink him. Normally, it would be pretty difficult to directly link something like raising postal rates on Amazon to direct retaliation for coverage in the Washington Post, but as the complaint lays out, because Trump himself has directly (incorrectly) argued that Amazon and the Washington Post are the same, and that the effort to raise rates was to punish Bezos and the Post, it seems like there's a stronger argument here.

The larger issue may be standing. There appear to be strong arguments here for the Washington Post and possibly Bezos himself and/or Amazon to have better standing, but PEN America is a tougher one. The organization tries to get around this by arguing that its members write for the Washington Post and that this has the potential to harm them. That seems like the key point that will be challenged in court. If they can get over the standing question, then it seems like they have a strong argument, mainly because Trump can't keep his mouth shut.

The second issue seems like more of a long shot to me. It's about the DOJ's effort to block the AT&T takeover of Time Warner (that effort has mostly failed). PEN America's suit argues that the DOJ's antitrust enforcement here was really about Trump's well-known animus towards CNN. And he did sometimes mention the merger, as detailed in the complaint:

Defendant Trump has done far more than exercise the right to make known his dislike of CNN’s reporting. At a rally during the 2016 campaign, Defendant Trump threatened to block a proposed merger between Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, and AT&T, once he gained control of the DOJ, and made clear his retaliatory motive for doing so. On October 22, 2016 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he denounced the AT&T–Time Warner merger, telling his audience that CNN was part of the media “power structure” trying to suppress his votes. “AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN,” Defendant Trump said, declaring it “a deal we will not approve in my administration.”

Once in office, Defendant Trump followed through on this threat. On information and belief, during the pendency of the AT&T–Time Warner merger review process, advisers to President Trump discussed using the merger approval application as “a potential point of leverage over [CNN].”

On information and belief, DOJ demanded the sale of CNN as a condition of its approval of the merger, leading a source close to the merger process to opine that “[t]his has become political . . . It’s all about CNN.”

This claim seems much weaker than the first. To be clear, it has the same standing issues as the first, but even if we get past those, vague threats to use antitrust action here doesn't mean that's actually what happened. Obviously, the discovery process here would be a big deal, and perhaps they can turn up a smoking gun. But there were plenty of legitimate antitrust reasons to block this merger, so the direct causal line here does seem tough to prove.

Separate from that, however, are threats to use DOJ enforcement powers against Google and other social media companies over the (made up) claim of political bias in search and recommendations. Here, as we've argued, the DOJ appears to be directly positioning the First Amendment-protected moderation and ranking decisions of internet companies as some sort of anti-trust violation. That's clearly in violation of the First Amendment, and the PEN America complaint highlights this as well:

Defendant Trump’s threats to use the DOJ to influence the flow of information to the public is not limited to CNN. On August 28, 2018, he complained, via Twitter, that:

Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of . . . results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!

Hours later, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, standing outside the White House, threatened that the Trump Administration is “taking a look” at imposing regulations on Google.

On September 5, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intention to convene a meeting of Republican state attorneys general to discuss a possible federal investigation of whether Google, Facebook, and other social media companies are violating antitrust and free speech laws.

On September 22, 2018, the White House leaked a draft Executive Order that would instruct federal law enforcement and antitrust agencies to open investigations into social media companies. This leak was intended to, and did, have a negative market impact on these companies. The intent of leaking this information was to show these companies and other speakers the President dislikes that his White House has the power to significantly injure them with a simple leak if it dislikes their content. The intent of leaking this information was also to incentivize investors to pressure these companies to modify their content to be more to the liking of the President in order to avoid retaliatory actions that could impact the investors’ bottom line.

Once again, the standing issue is a big one here that may be difficult for PEN America to get past. But this kind of activity has clear First Amendment problems. We detailed out a bunch of cases that highlighted how the courts have ruled against politicians and government officials who use the power of their office to intimidate companies into publishing (or not publishing) protected speech.

Next up is Trump's semi-regular threats to "pull" the licenses from major TV networks over negative coverage of his Presidency. He does this every so often even though there aren't any such licenses to pull. Even networks like NBC, ABC and CBS have local licenses for their affiliates, but not a general license for their parent companies -- and Trump can't "pull" those non-existent licenses anyway.

Minutes later, Defendant Trump followed that tweet with another threatening NBC’s broadcast license. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

Later the same day, Defendant Trump broadened his threat to more outlets: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!”

Beyond the standing question (again), the issue here will be the lack of action. It's just Trump venting stupidly on Twitter, and again such licenses don't even exist. Obviously, PEN's argument here is that the local affiliate licenses do exist, and these threats to pull general licenses may be interpreted by them as a threat to pull the local licenses -- and that could impact and influence coverage at the local level. But... that seems like much more of a stretch than the other claims.

Next up are attempts to limit the access of White House reporters to information in the White House.

Defendant Trump’s behavior in denying journalist critics access to information from the White House and about his Administration is a pattern dating back to his campaign. Prior to the election, on August 25, 2015, Defendant Trump had Jorge Ramos, Univision’s lead anchor, removed from a press conference after Ramos tried to ask Defendant Trump a question about immigration policy.

While on the campaign trail, Defendant Trump barred reporters from several news organizations, including the Washington Post, from obtaining press credentials at his rallies, news conferences, and other events.

As President, Defendant Trump has continued to threaten journalists whose coverage or questioning he found unfavorable to him or his Administration with revoking their access to official Administration and White House events.

On information and belief, Defendant Trump has repeatedly directed White House staff to ban reporters critical of his Administration from covering official events or to take away their press credentials. This included reporters from the Washington Post, CNN, and NBC News, and Defendant has specifically told his staff to consider blacklisting Jim Acosta of CNN and April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks in retaliation for their coverage, of which he disapproves.

Again, there's a standing issue here, and I'm a bit surprised PEN America didn't find a journalist to be a co-plaintiff at least on this claim, as that would make it stronger. Beyond that, there are some questions about what standards the White House uses in favoring some journalists over others, that could potentially raise some First Amendment issues. If the decisions are specifically based on their coverage and if it's positive or negative, then there's a stronger case there. The White House, of course, will likely suggest there are other reasons for limiting access to certain journalists.

In the end, this should be an interesting First Amendment case to follow, though I do think the standing question will be a tough hurdle for PEN America, without specifically naming individuals or organizations directly harmed by these actions (some of which do appear to raise big First Amendment questions).


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  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 9:42am

    So, basically...

    ... the story here should really be under the headline of

    "Anti-Trump Do-Gooder Organization Files Multiple Suits That Will Be Summarily Dismissed"

    As you yourself note, they've got no Standing for ANY of the claims they're filing.

    Tremendous waste of time and taxpayer dollars all around.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 9:51am

      At least they are trying to do something. I would rather have good (if possibly misguided) people doing something than standing by doing nothing because they might fail. Even if PEN America loses on the standing issue(s), filing the lawsuits might encourage someone with standing to join the suit and nullify that issue so the case can be decided on the merits.

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      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:06am

        Re:

        The "something" they're trying to do is call attention to themselves by grandstanding.

        This is no different than the hundred or so lawsuits we see filed every year against whatever government official in the news - "Bronx Woman Files $10 million suit against Texas Mayor". You can file suit against anyone for any reason, all you have to do is pay the filing fee. The courts spend more time tossing suits for lack of standing than they do working on suits that are actually important.

        You never see that the suit was tossed out reported.

        But PEN America grabbed some headlines. Yay for them.

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        • identicon
          Vlad in Plaid, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:20am

          Re: Re:

          I guess it is ok then for the potus to be a mob boss while in office because that is really no big deal.

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          • identicon
            NPC in Grey, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:46am

            Re: Re: Re:

            Evil paid russian hacker Nazi bot dehumanizes and pretends to be one of us again!

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          • identicon
            JEDIDIAH, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:26pm

            Sauce for the goose.

            He has the same right to spout unhinged nonsense as you do.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:53pm

              Re: Sauce for the goose.

              Exactly, do you know what satire is?

              Do you like your nonsense hinged? I guess it would make swinging easier.

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            • identicon
              ryuugami, 17 Oct 2018 @ 2:45pm

              Re: Sauce for the goose.

              He doesn't, that's the point. I am not the POTUS, and my unhinged nonsense is not supported by the power of the federal government and the US military. With great power comes great responsibility, as well as a set of laws that dictate what you can and can't do when you wield that power.

              If he wants to spout unhinged nonsense, he should resign first.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:23am

            Re: Re: Re:

            "I guess it is ok then for the potus to be a mob boss while in office because that is really no big deal."

            That's not what he said.

            Irrespective of what you think of the pXssy-grabber-in-chief the fact remains that running a lawsuit with no chance of success is a waste of resources. Both of the taxpayers and of PEN's members who fund this.

            On top of which anything which won't sink the sreaming orange will merely let him don the martyr's robes that much easier when he tweets yet another lament of how persecuted by rabid haters his badly aged and overweight ass is.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 7:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "running a lawsuit with no chance of success is a waste of resources."

              Many things are are a waste of resources, why are you picking this one as there are others that are much larger wastes of resources. What criteria do you use to determine what resource waste to go after first?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:47am

          At least they thought of a possible way to hold the POTUS accountable for his words and deeds at a time when virtually no one in power is willing to do so. Grandstanding though they may be, would you prefer they be the good men doing nothing?

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          • identicon
            JEDIDIAH, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:27pm

            Clues for the simple minded.

            Being butt hurt over his actual deeds is fine, assuming that those deeds aren't just some unhinged conspiracy theory.

            Advocating the punishment of people over their words is what alienates moderates.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:34pm

              Advocating the punishment of people over their words is what alienates moderates.

              If someone who works in a government position says “gay people should burn in Hell” or drops the N-word in a speech, for what reason should I not want to see that someone punished, even just with social consequences?

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              • icon
                Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:58pm

                Re:

                You realize you just stated that it's OK with you to remove the First Amendment rights of anyone who speaks their mind on gay people or black people, right?

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 1:30pm

                  Re: Re:

                  You realize you just stated that it's OK with you to remove the First Amendment rights of anyone who speaks their mind on gay people or black people, right?

                  Did you miss the 1st part of his sentence that read If someone who works in a government position says...

                  How in the fuck could you miss the whole first half of the sentence?

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                  • icon
                    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 1:51pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    I didn't miss it.

                    Everyone from POTUS down to the local dog catcher, including all the janitors, typists, military members, postal workers, etc. Have NO First Amendment rights when it comes to saying anything bad about gays or blacks.

                    You can't have it both ways.

                    You either support free speech for ALL, or you don't actually support free speech.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:44am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I didn't miss it.

                      Followed by:

                      Everyone from POTUS down to the local dog catcher, including all the janitors, typists, military members, postal workers, etc. Have NO First Amendment rights when it comes to saying anything bad about gays or blacks.

                      Yeah, you fucking missed it. Twice now, shit-for-brains.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:56pm

              Re: Clues for the simple minded.

              "Being butt hurt over his actual deeds is fine, assuming that those deeds aren't just"

              ... denied after the fact - never mind the video and multiple witnesses because he did not say that --- lol

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:01am

      Re: So, basically...

      The Left wing Mainstream news is so BIAS against Trump. Since even before taking office he was being attacked.

      Obama and the rest on the left are IGNORED. Remember Code Pink and their attack on BUSH for dropping bombs and supposedly killing innocent people? They would be handing out in front of BUSH's property. Obama comes along and drops tons more Bombs than Bush ever did. and all it was, was crickets. No Code Pink.

      The Media is so biased. They have been attacking Trump before he was even in office to do a single thing and haven't let up since. 24/7 Negative, nothing positive even though he's done a lot of good things.

      What we have now is Democrats creating MOB RULE!!! Look at them out there attacking Republicans. It's getting sickening.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Phil in Philly, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: So, basically...

        Hahaha - you're pretty funny, keep up the good work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:29am

        The Left wing Mainstream news is so BIAS against Trump.

        “Bias” is a noun; “biased” is the adjective you wanted to use. (Seriously, how do people keep fucking that up? Is it a genetic defect only conservatives have or something?)

        Obama comes along and drops tons more Bombs than Bush ever did. and all it was, was crickets.

        As a two-time Obama voter, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am more than disappointed in how Obama used the military as part of his foreign policy. Didn’t help the U.S. one damn bit. But right now, Obama is not the POTUS—Trump is.

        The Media is so biased.

        OH MY GOD YOU FOUND A CURE.

        They have been attacking Trump before he was even in office

        He opened his campaign by generalizing all Mexicans as rapists, and you wonder why people have been criticizing him since that day.

        Negative, nothing positive even though he's done a lot of good things.

        Define “good things”, then list the parties that benefitted the most from those “good things” he has done.

        What we have now is Democrats creating MOB RULE

        Republicans control every branch of the federal government. They literally do not need Democrats to pass any legislation they want. Kinda hard for a mob to rule if they cannot do anything even when in positions of power.

        Speaking of mob rule, didn’t the Republicans hamstring Obama after 2010 by refusing to compromise on much of anything? And didn’t Mitch McConnell refuse to hold even one hearing for Merrick Garland, thus holding open a seat on the Supreme Court for a year as a precaution against having a “liberal” on the bench?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:15pm

        Re: Re: So, basically...

        Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with what is being said, there is nothing in the post that justifies forcing this comment into hiding.

        Shame on you, and shame on the site for allowing you pursue your spiteful course of censorship.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 6:37am

          Re: Re: Re: So, basically...

          Flagging is a vote from the people reading.

          If a comment received enough flags, it gets put behind the warning. Notably, you can click through to read it.

          This isn't censorship, since the comment can still be read. Censorship would be removal of the comment entirely.

          What this is, is a bunch of readers deciding this guy is a putz, and that people should be warned that the comment is probably not worth reading. It's a vote system, and the dude was voted down.

          So direct your ire at the formless masses of anonymous voters ... or just the people who commented on this post. You can rest assured that site staff aren't the one's who forced it into hiding.

          For my personal opinion, the post in question really isn't worth the time it took to read it or to write it, given that it's built from a worldview that denies certain realiies, and from a worldview that has a history of refusing to even consider that people that don't agree could be right.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 7:19am

          Re: Re: Re: So, basically...

          Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with what is being said, there is nothing in the post that justifies forcing this comment into hiding.

          Sure there is. He's painting Trump, the guy who has plenty of negative things to say about damn near everybody, as some kind of poor defenseless victim.

          It's another "badass" who likely brags about "owning lib snowflakes" complaining when they stop listening to his horseshit. It's in the shitpile right where it belongs.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 10:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So, basically...

            So what if he is...how does that justify a bunch of “I know what is best for everyone” commenters to make a decision that affects everyone else? Just because you may disagree with a comment does not give you the right to make decisions for others, especially when it makes the site more difficult to navigate.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:48am

        Re: Re: So, basically...

        The Left wing Mainstream news is so BIAS against Trump. Since even before taking office he was being attacked.

        Well to be honest, he's a retard. His wife is a gold-digging, mail-order whore. His kids have turned out to be dimwitted useless shitbags, like their father.

        What did you expect?

        Go cry me a river, snowflake.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digirati, 17 Oct 2018 @ 9:54am

    Too funny

    You said bad things about me....
    Coming from Both sides.

    But only One side has the "right" to lie......


    Do unto others and all.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:05am

      Re: Too funny

      Yeah, Trump's a thin-skinned whiny bully who can't take criticism. Only wants praise, only wants to allow his toadies and the people on "his" side to actually talk, and doesn't care if they're lying through their teeth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:27am

        Re: Re: Too funny

        "Yeah, Trump's a thin-skinned whiny bully who can't take criticism. Only wants praise, only wants to allow his toadies and the people on "his" side to actually talk, and doesn't care if they're lying through their teeth."

        He's been like that for 40-odd years. What I find incredible is that people kept buying his bullshit for that long.

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  • icon
    Thad (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 9:56am

    Reminder for the slow class:

    The First Amendment restricts the government from punishing speech.

    The President is part of the government.

    The President is not allowed to punish people or organizations for saying things he doesn't like.

    This is completely different from Techdirt, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Google, or any other private entity, punishing people or organizations for saying things they don't like. That's legal. Because those are not government organizations.

    (Pedants who think they are being clever may note that the First Amendment only mentions Congress; it doesn't say anything about the President. Well, here's the thing about that: if Congress is not allowed to make a law giving the President the power to punish people for speech he doesn't like, then the President doesn't have that power.)

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    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      You don't need to be a pedant to read what the words say - "Congress shall make no law..."

      The President isn't mentioned because ONLY Congress can make Laws.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:20am

        Re: Re:

        "...if Congress is not allowed to make a law giving the President the power to punish people for speech he doesn't like, then the President doesn't have that power."

        Or, put another way, if Congress can't make it legal, then the President doing it is illegal.

        It's also important to remember that the Constitution is worded broadly, on purpose. It can be applicable and is intended to require consideration and interpretation by governmental departments and authorities as they go about their duties.

        If the legislative body may not restrict the freedom of the press, neither can the executive body.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re:

        Are you implying that Executive Orders are not law?
        Are you implying that the president can make laws that are not subject to constitutional limitations?
        Are you implying that trump is a king emperor overlord?
        You really do not see that elephant?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A President can make an Executive Order, but I look at it as a temp law. It's not from Congress and so the next President can come along and should be able to easily remove it. Something that can't be done if it was a law from Congress. With enough votes, Congress can pass anything they want and override any president Veto.

          A President as limited powers. The President is not a Dictator. Though Obama at times sounded that way. When he said He Had a Pen and a Phone and could do what HE wanted if Congress wasn't going to do what he wanted. It's Obama, so who cares, he's on the left.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6tOgF_w-yI

          Sounds like something a Dictator in Office would say.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUWw8vOAgrw

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:16am

            Though Obama at times sounded that way.

            And Trump has never once sounded like an authoritarian dictator? If’n you plan to throw rocks, better make sure your glass house is shatterproof.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              JEDIDIAH, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:30pm

              This is why you respect the process.

              It doesn't matter what you think he "sounds" like. Our government was specifically engineered to neuter anyone who has genuine ambitions to be King.

              If you are worried that our current system is not up to the task then we've already fucked up. Perhaps you should have objected to the subversion of our governmental processes when the guy you liked was in office.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:45pm

                Our government was specifically engineered to neuter anyone who has genuine ambitions to be King.

                Our government was engineered under the notion that the legislative and judicial branches would act as a check on the executive branch. When the first two branches would rather wholly align themselves with the third rather than do the job of acting as a check on executive authority…

                If you are worried that our current system is not up to the task then we've already fucked up.

                …our current system is severely fucked up.

                Perhaps you should have objected to the subversion of our governmental processes when the guy you liked was in office.

                I did object to the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics—as well as the birtherism that directly led to the rise of Donald Trump as a serious political figure—while Obama was in office. It was bullshit, it will always be bullshit, and it set the stage for the current state of government affairs where the old White men of the GOP are doing everything they can (up to and including the refusal of acting as a check on the power and behaviour of Donald Trump) to assert conservative(/White) dominance over the federal government and American society in general before they all retire to their cushy homes and eventually die with the satisfaction of knowing just how much they fucked over everyone but the rich.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 7:34pm

                  Re:

                  "...when the guy you liked was in office."

                  You totally missed that he was implying that Obama screwed up those things while *he* was in office. No politician in history did things that were uniformly "good" for every individual in their jurisdiction, ever.

                  Is it too hard to potentially critique or even consider the flaws of someone you like in politics just by the fact that you like them? That's a blind spot in your critical thinking and rather dangerous.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 4:03pm

                Re: This is why you respect the process.

                "Our government was specifically engineered to neuter anyone who has genuine ambitions to be King. "

                And when does this happen?
                Do I need to purchase tickets in advance?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So .... are executive orders subject to the limitations of the constitution or not?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            I.T. Guy, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "but I look at it as a temp law."

            "In the United States, an executive order is a directive issued by the President of the United States that manages operations of the federal government and has the force of law"

            "Though Obama at times sounded that way."
            Ha ha ha how soon we forget:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Zv1T4Qdv4

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      John Smith, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:20am

      Re:

      Perhaps someone can explain to the "slow class" why the Supreme Court took a case which will turn on whether or not a public-access broadcaster who is a private company is a "state actor":

      https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/supreme-court-takes-public-access-tv-case-with-bigger-imp lications

      The case is Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck.

      WHy can we sue private universtiies over affirmative action? Because they are a state actor. ALL employers, landlords, hospitals, or anyone vital to functioning in society should be treated as state actors, as they are fulfilling the social contract, but we're not there yet.

      I think the market solves censorship issues better than lawsuits or legislation, but I can see why someone might sue Trumnp. The problem with suing a president is that he's directly accountable to the people, to the point where electing him can be considered a waiver. There are cases where the president is not violating the constitution because of this, where a government agency might be, because the latter is appointed and the former, elected.

      If the Supreme Court finds that the broadcaster is a state actor, Big Internet will probably have to change its policies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re:

        Oh - idk .... because the scotus is illegitimate?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re:

        Oh, and do you realize that you sound like a socialist?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          John Smith, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          better a socialist than a sociopath who becomes asocialist when things don't go his way.

          We've been socialist for a century, just the very expensive version where we rescue people for a lot more money rather than letting them starve and die. Do you believe we should just let that law of the jungle take over? It would definitely be cheaper, but the problem is we lose our nerve and require hospitals to save them, then send the bill to upstanding taxpayers like you, who wind up paying more.

          The rich had a chance to put their (lack of) money where their mouths were in 2008, and they blinked, demanding bailouts rather than living under their own rules. Norway does pretty well with socialism last time I checked, btw.

          I don't think we'd do very well if we didn't have safety nets, and they save money while stabilizing revenue for businesses. SNAP is spent at supermarkets and helps create jobs. No one "earned" their citizenship. We all own this country. Thank of it as revenue-sharing.

          Law of the jungle would ensure that the most dishonest and violent survive. As it is, we are corrupt, and evil gets more power and money with each passing years. Might as well just arm them and do away with laws because that's what will happen. Socialism is a natural reaction to the failures of capitalism when meritocracy goes out the window.

          People speak of capitalism as if everyone plays fair and those with power do the right thing. They don't. Until they do, the rich won't be able to enjoy their wealth if we have our own Bastille Day, so we have to give enough to the poor for them to survive.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            JEDIDIAH, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:31pm

            Clues for the simple minded.

            You have no idea what socialism is. You just label anything the government does socialism.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:48pm

            Do you believe we should just let that law of the jungle take over?

            Judging by how hard Republicans fought against health care reform—and how hard they fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act after it passed—at least they believe the sick people who cannot afford to pay for their health care should fuck off and die.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "We've been socialist for a century,"

            Wrong. Perhaps one should read up on the subject - no?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 1:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "sociopath who becomes asocialist when things don't go his way."

            wut?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yeah, it's funny how clueless John is at being a pot calling the kettle black. Senile dementia's a bitch, ain't it?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 5:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "People speak of capitalism as if everyone plays fair and those with power do the right thing. "

            That, right there, is the problem.

            Communism = a perfect system if we can find perfect automatons to live in it. Capitalism = a system which assumes people will all push for a better deal.

            Communism breaks down as soon as people in it stop blindly accepting what is foisted on them and begin pushing for a better deal.

            Capitalism breaks down as soon as enough people stop pushing for the better deal and blindly accept what is being foisted on them.

            The current problem with US politics and capitalism is because much of the citizenry is a big herd of sheep which would find it far easier to live in a communist regime...if it was renamed so as not to be quite so obvious.

            People keep speaking about the "1%" without even a single reflection that the reason a small minority owns everything and calls all the shots is because too much of the 99% have gone to any length short of putting forks through their eyes to ensure they don't have to see, note, or learn a damn thing about what their elected representatives are doing.

            Farmer Jones remains in power because the sheep want to remain ignorant idiots at any cost.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        he's directly accountable to the people, to the point where electing him can be considered a waiver

        If electing Donald Trump to the highest public service office in the country means he gets a free pass to violate the First Amendment and defy 200-plus years of 1A jurisprudence for the sake of his own ego, I would really love to know how that works.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think you're currently seeing how that works. Just because it hasn't been tried (at this scale) before doesn't mean it doesn't work.

          Of course, there's going to be fallout, but currently, it works.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That "free pass" is about to come due and it is going to be expensive no matter what happens. And we have our illustrious fearless leaders to thank.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:00pm

        Re: Re:

        And if your mom had a dick she’d be your dad.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Coles (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:01am

    Waste of time by a waste of an organization

    Why is Amazon's abuse of the postal system downplayed? The USPS is a great asset. If the rates may need to be moved inline to avoid losing money, there's no reason to not investigate.

    Related to USPS, the rates should be checked. China is making a fortune selling their junk of Ali(*) and paying nearly zero for postage.

    If someone was in my house, making up lies, I'd kick them out. They can stand on the street and 'report'.

    Why shouldn't the big tech companies be investigated? Sure, it's their platform, do as they please, but do it honestly. The hidden censoring is evident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:14am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      If the postal rates are being reviewed and raised for legitimate reasons, that's fine - the postal service is actually foundering and is actually being taken advantage of by various delivery services, then sure.

      The problem is that that the postal rates are, based on what Trump is saying, being reviewed and raised in order to punish Jeff Bezos for negative press coverage of POTUS by the news company he owns.

      That's not fine. That's abuse of power. That's the government moving to quash speech it doesn't like, which is unconstitutional. That's the path to tyranny.

      So even if the postal rates should have been raised anyway, Trump's gone and tainted that whole process by bringing in personal vendettas and unconstitutional actions. If these lawsuits go somewhere, the rate hikes could potentially be reversed due to a question of constitutionality - and then that potentially needed revenue is lost, and the question couldn't be brought up again until it could be shown that the rate hikes aren't being utilized to punish protected speech. So if Trump's done what he seems to have done, he's fucked the postal service over.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:17am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      If the rates may need to be moved inline to avoid losing money,

      They do not need an executive order to target a specific customer to adjust the rates that they charge for bulk mail services that they provide to companies in general.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:35pm

        Re: Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

        Amazon is the 800lb gorilla of mail order. Any audit of the US Postal system is likely to start with them. They are likely by far the biggest user (or abuser).

        This is a classic example of how you can explain a particular action without raising the specter of something nefarious or "discrimination".

        It's easy to interpret this entire anti-Trump narrative as biased partisan spin.

        The US Postal service is our communications mechanism of last resort. It doesn't need to "make money" or "pay for itself" or serve any other purpose. It doesn't need to prop up private business (crony capitalism) or enable environmentally harmful junk mail and bulk mail.

        All of you socialist wannabes should be entirely disinterested in Bezos feeding off the public teat.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:31am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      Amazon is making use of the postal services as advertised, they are not getting any special deals.

      The nut jobs out there are using the postal service as a punching bag and are actively trying to destroy it so their private service buddies can grab all the action.

      The postal service is not going broke like many liars out there claim. Congress did their under the table dealings and strapped the service with ridiculous requirements that private business is not held to ... because why not?

      Some things just do not do well in a private business atmosphere and all those silly sayings about how private business is so much more efficient is complete bullshit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Smith, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

        People who call others "nut jobs" are the ones with questionable mental health, though they can't really be taken seriously, because they'd never provoke someone they thought was actually mentally ill. Kind of a self-refuting insult.

        At some point in the future, people who use slurs like this will find themselves de-platformed and unemployable, instantly. The way we retroactively enforce our norms could even make that happen for people who do this now, when they think it's acceptable. It's not.

        Namecalling is effectively picking fight with someone, or admitting that there is nothing to bacfk up that mouth. All you did there was broadcast to the world that you're a foulmouthed coward.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:02pm

          So much projection.

          “Namecalling is effectively picking fight with someone, or admitting that there is nothing to bacfk up that mouth. All you did there was broadcast to the world that you're a foulmouthed coward.”


          You still got a purty mouth 😘

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:51pm

          Namecalling is effectively picking fight with someone, or admitting that there is nothing to bacfk up that mouth. All you did there was broadcast to the world that you're a foulmouthed coward.

          …says the guy who hides behind an obvious pseudonym so he will never have to take responsibility for what he says.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Vlad in Plaid, 17 Oct 2018 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

          Quite opinionated there, good thing people like you will be out of office soon - hopefully not in any position where they can do further damage.

          Those who legislate out of norm pension requirements upon the postal system and then proclaim to the public that the postal system is running a deficit and should therefore be replaced by private business .... are nut jobs - plain and simple, not mincing words here.


          " people who use slurs like this will find themselves de-platformed and unemployable, instantly. "

          How do you intend to get this piece if silliness thru? In what sort of governmental system would such a thing be common and acceptable?

          Name calling is in the eye of the offended. One person's off hand flippant remark is another's huge offense requiring a firing squad just to appease their inflated ego by seeking revenge. It never ends. Cowards want to silence their critics and they use many "foul" words - Oh My!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

          So is it the self-help book empire or the Google competitor you're gonna piss and moan about today?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:35am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      Why is Amazon's abuse of the postal system downplayed? The USPS is a great asset. If the rates may need to be moved inline to avoid losing money, there's no reason to not investigate.

      USPS makes a ton of money on shipping now. Its "losses" are from other obligations, mainly pension funding. https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/02/donald-trump/trump-usps-postal-servi ce-amazon-losing-fortune/

      Related to USPS, the rates should be checked. China is making a fortune selling their junk of Ali() and paying nearly zero for postage.*

      The china issue is a different one, and comes from an agreement from over a century ago, which Trump just said he's doing away with.

      Notably, that move should HELP Amazon, since Aliexpress/Alibaba were often able to beat out Amazon by offering totally free shipping.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 5:28pm

        Re: Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

        That linked article is BS. Does not show USPS making tons of money... $2.7 Billion loss for 2017, $65.1 Billion loss since 2007.

        Why don't they give the profit for the package delivery business if it is so good instead of just stating revenue and revenue growth (which don't mean shit if you are losing money)?

        So paying employees should not be a part of the calculation for making "tons" of money?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:44am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      Calling something both hidden and evident is a great way to avoid having to give any evidence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:48am

      Re: Waste of time by a waste of an organization

      Why is Amazon's abuse of the postal system downplayed?

      Because it's not a thing. Amazon gets the same bulk rate as everybody else.

      If someone was in my house, making up lies, I'd kick them out. They can stand on the street and 'report'.

      You're not the President. See "Reminder for the slow class" above.

      Why shouldn't the big tech companies be investigated? Sure, it's their platform, do as they please, but do it honestly. The hidden censoring is evident.

      This is gibberish. What are you even talking about?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Postage

        Amazon pays "less" because they're extremely efficient at pre-sorting to take advantage of the best possible Bulk Rates.

        It's not illegal, and it's probably saving everyone a lot of money - if they didn't pre-sort and paid full rates, USPS would have to do all the sorting - at full union scale.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:32am

    Why has he lived so long and doent know HOW this all works.

    Lets see..
    Raise the postal rates, and the price of goods go up and shipping rates..
    BUT, who pays?

    Not them, and not him..
    but he MIGHT pay for it, by costing the Citizens more money, NOT LESS..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve Swafford (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 10:57am

    Wait..

    I thought you couldn't sue the president while he's in office. Or do I have that all fkd up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:33am

      Re: Wait..

      No no no ... you can not see his tax returns because he is being audited.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 17 Oct 2018 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Wait..

      It's generally held (though never tested in court) that the president can't be criminally charged while in office.

      People can, however, sue a sitting president in civil court. That was decided by the Supreme Court when Paula Jones sued Bill Clinton.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 17 Oct 2018 @ 11:47am

    Breaking News! Muammar Covfefe implicates himself again!
    Carry on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FotUS4Life, 17 Oct 2018 @ 6:30pm

    FotUS needs to have breathing license revoked.

    The FotUS is currently using air that thousands of us could use to better the country instead of hish wasting it by being a complete and utter Fucktard of the United States that won't ever shut his fucking mouth!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 4:29am

    Animus? Puh-lease! Try animosity, and look up animus in a dictionary. Or blame the autocarrot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 18 Oct 2018 @ 1:02pm

    Wtf?

    I'm really not understanding why you are going on and on about this suit.
    It's obviously without merit. It has nothing to do with whether the plaintiffs have standing.
    Trump has 1st Amendment rights. Any challenge to any citizen's 1st Amendment rights is without any merit before any US court
    This is another stupid piece of nonsense put forth by Trump Derangement Syndrome lunatics.
    Don't feed the lunatic. Your article is also without merit because it does not deal with the root Free Speech issue clearly delineated by this nonsense.
    Wake up, Tech Dirt guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2018 @ 2:37pm

      Re: Wtf?

      Perhaps because so many here give the impression that they are charter members of sites like OD and TP...;)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Oct 2018 @ 12:42am

      Re: Wtf?

      It's obviously without merit. It has nothing to do with whether the plaintiffs have standing.

      We'll see. I'm very confident the suit will fail and standing will be the reason why. Check back when that happens.

      Trump has 1st Amendment rights. Any challenge to any citizen's 1st Amendment rights is without any merit before any US court

      Yes, he has 1st Amendment rights, but as a government entity he actually cannot do anything that blocks others 1st Amendment rights. This is fairly well established law that you seem totally unaware of.

      A few cases:

      From that last one, about a government official (Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart) trying to kill off a website by sending angry letters to its payment processors, the court is quite clear that when you're in gov't, there are very real limits on your speech, if your speech is intended to silence others' 1st amendment rights:

      "A government entity, including therefore the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, is entitled to say what it wants to say—but only within limits. It is not permitted to employ threats to squelch the free speech of private citizens. “[A] government’s ability to express itself is [not] without restriction. … [T]he Free Speech Clause itself may constrain the government’s speech.”

      In his public capacity as a sheriff of a major county (Cook County has a population of more than 5.2 million), Sheriff Dart is not permitted to issue and publicize dire threats against credit card companies that process payments made through Backpage’s website, including threats of prosecution (albeit not by him, but by other enforcement agencies that he urges to proceed against them), in an effort to throttle Backpage."

      In other words, no, you're incorrect, and you should -- maybe -- avoid yelling "wtf" and "wake up" when it is you who is misinformed about this issue. Okay?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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