Trump’s Injunction Request Has ‘Strong Basis for Prevailing’
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers have crafted an “impressive” legal argument that has a strong chance of convincing a judge to compel YouTube to reinstate his channel, according to at least one attorney familiar with the lawsuit.
In one of his three class-action suits, Trump asked a Florida judge overseeing his case against YouTube to issue a preliminary injunction that would require the company to reinstate his account on the platform, which would allow him to sell merchandise as part of any political fundraising efforts, the New York Post reported.
Trump’s lawyers say they will file similar requests in the suits against social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Trump’s legal team argues that keeping the former president off of the platforms would cause irreparable harm to Trump as a potential political candidate in the future and the Republican Party overall.
“This injunction is so important because quite possibly the midterms are on the line here,” said marketing and Big Tech expert Adam Rizzieri.
Attorney Paul Kamenar, who serves as counsel to the National Legal and Policy Center, said he was “very impressed” with the legal arguments put forward by Trump’s attorneys.
“The legal issues presented are excellent,” he said. “I expect [the injunction] to be granted either by this court or by the appellate court.”
Kamenar expects the forthcoming injunction requests to also have a “strong basis for prevailing.” If the judges deny the motions, however, he believes the appellate court would “look favorably on the appeal.”
In the three separate, yet nearly identical, lawsuits filed last month, Trump claims he has been unlawfully censored by the Big Tech companies. The suits also ask federal judges to overturn the immunity protections afforded to these companies by deeming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act unconstitutional.
Under Section 230, Internet companies are largely exempt from liability for the material posted by users. The section permits social media platforms to moderate posts that violate their standards or are obscene – if they act in “good faith.” But many conservatives argue the Big Tech titans have gone out of their way to silence their viewpoints on various politically charged topics.
Trump was booted off social media platforms for posts and comments he made following the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach. He has been permanently banned from Twitter and is ineligible to return to Facebook for at least two more years. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki said in March that the video platform would lift its suspension on Trump’s channel when it decides the risk of real-world violence has decreased.
In announcing his decision to file a motion for preliminary injunction, Trump said he is “fighting back” against “Big Tech’s unlawful and Communist-style censorship.”
“The American people, and truth itself, are under attack by Big Tech’s unlawful and Communist-style censorship,” he said in a statement. “We filed a historic class action lawsuit because every American deserves to have their First Amendment Rights protected, not destroyed by leftist radicals in Silicon Valley.”
Since announcing his plan to take on Big Tech, he said more than 85,000 Americans, whose “voices are being silenced and freedoms restricted,” have joined the suit.
“We must fight back,” Trump said. “They are destroying our Country. There is nothing more important than our right to free speech.”
Trump filed the suits with the America First Policy Institute, which was founded by former members of his administration.
The motion for injunctive relief argues that Trump’s First Amendment rights were violated and that YouTube violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Kamenar believes that Trump will win on both arguments because Trump’s attorneys crafted a powerful case showing how YouTube is “arbitrarily discriminating against President Trump” with “no rational basis” when compared to how it treats other YouTube users who have been allowed to remain on the platform despite showing violent videos.
According to Trump’s suit, YouTube removed a video about the Capitol breach from his account on Jan. 6. He was indefinitely suspended from the platform on Jan. 27.
Kamenar said the motion points out how YouTube violates Florida’s consumer law by unfairly determining who it lets on its platform and who it kicks off.
“They are arbitrarily applying their reasons in a way that discriminates against Trump and thousands of others conservative voices,” he said.
AFPI Constitutional Litigation Partnership executive director Katie Sullivan told the New York Post that the social media giants have “inconsistently applied their terms and services and their community standards” and “they censor specific voices and thought so that other users only hear one side of a story.”
She pointed out that banning Trump from Twitter, but allowing the Taliban to broadcast from the platform as they took over control of Afghanistan is a “perfect example” of the uneven application of rules.
“I mean that’s just low-hanging fruit right there,” she said.
Trump railed against Twitter last week for permitting the Taliban’s presence on the platform while his ban continues to stand.
“It’s disgraceful when you think that you have killers and muggers and dictators and horrible — some horrible dictators and countries, and they’re all on, but the president of the United States, who had hundreds of millions of people, by the way, he gets taken off,” Trump said in a statement.
Rizzieri said Twitter’s decision to allow the Taliban on the platform while keeping Trump off sends the message that Trump is worse than a regime that has killed Americans, beaten women for showing their faces in public, and conducted public beheadings.
When you compare the two accounts and realize a former U.S. president, who was supported by at least half of the country, is banned, while a militant regime is still active, Rizzieri said it is “so ridiculous” and the “definition of hypocrisy” – but that hypocrisy runs rampant in Big Tech.
The lawsuit against YouTube, which also names the CEO of parent company Alphabet as a defendant, additionally claims that the company was forced to ban Trump by Congressional lawmakers, especially Democrats.
Rizzieri said it won’t be hard for Trump’s legal team to prove there is a “strong link” between Twitter’s leadership team and the White House communication team when it files that motion for an injunction. He pointed out that White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said on the record how the White House has an open line of communication with Big Tech companies.
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team,” Psaki told reporters during a July press briefing.
She added that the White House was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”
Rizzieri said if Trump’s lawyers can show “with consistency” just how closely tied the White House is with the Big Tech officials who are “making daily censorship decisions,” the case will be a “shoo-in” for Trump and his nine co-plaintiffs.
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