Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are asking the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reinstate Trump’s lawsuit over alleged Democratic-induced censorship at Twitter, saying the case “presents the most important Free Speech issue of our day.”
A 96-page opening brief says government officials suppress speech by “colluding with social media platforms to remove ideas from the public square,” referencing Galileo’s house arrest plight “for spreading heretical ideas.”
“Thousands of dissidents today are arrested or killed by despotic governments eager to suppress ideas they disapprove of,” according to the brief. “But this is not the American way. We believe the path to truth is forged by exposing all ideas to opposition, debate, and discussion.”
The brief says government officials “use social media platforms as cat’s paws to suppress opinions and information about matters that Americans consider of vital interest—including those that turn out to be correct or at least debatable, such as that the Hunter Biden laptop was authentic, the COVID virus leaked from a laboratory, COVID vaccines provide weak protection that does not outweigh the risk of vaccine injury, and the 2020 election was stolen.”
“Most people once believed these to be crackpot ideas; many still do. But crackpot ideas sometimes turn out to be true. The earth does revolve around the sun, and it was Hunter Biden, not Russian disinformation agents, who dropped off a laptop full of incriminating evidence at a repair shop in Delaware,” according to the brief.
With lawyers including former 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, Trump is appealing U.S. District Judge James Donato’s dismissal order and subsequent June 7, 2022, judgment in favor of Twitter and its former CEO, Jack Dorsey (Elon Musk has since taken over).
Trump’s brief argues Donato, based in the Northern District of California’s San Francisco courthouse, errored several times, including when he concluded that Trump and the other plaintiffs did not adequately allege facts to support their claim brought under state law, and when he “erroneously concluded that the extensive record of government threats did not amount to coercion.”
The brief says the record “shows that some of the most powerful members of Congress and the Executive Branch repeatedly threatened Defendants and other social media platforms with seismic legal consequences … unless Defendants cooperated in censoring disfavored content.”
“This was no mere puffery; these officials—members of powerful committees, the Speaker of the House, the Vice-President, and the President himself—had it well within their power to carry out their threats,” the brief reads.
It attributes Twitter’s censorship of Trump’s Twitter account, including its permanent suspension on Jan. 7, 2021, to “governmental pressures and solicitations.”
“Defendants also censored speech by the other named Plaintiffs expressing views contrary to the government’s preferred positions,” according to the brief. “Defendants’ overtly partisan censorship resulted in the prior restraint of millions of Americans’ freedom to participate in public discourse, contrary to First Amendment principles deeply rooted in American history and law.”
Along with Trump, the plaintiffs in the appeal include the American Conservative Union, Linda Cuadros, Rafael Barbosa, Dominick Latella, Wayne Allyn Root and Naomi Wolf.
Trump’s lawyers are John P. Coale, a solo practitioner in Washington, D.C.; Andrei Popovici and Marie L. Fiala of the Law Office of Andrei D. Popovici in Walnut Creek, California, as well as Kozinski, who has an office in Palos Verdes Estates, California, after retiring from the 9th Circuit in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations.
In an unusual move, however, Wolfe has a separate lawyer from the other plaintiffs, and he filed his own opening brief on Monday that appears to focus less on rhetoric about Galileo and Hunter Biden’s laptop and more on legal issues and laws.
The 31-page filing from Scott J. Street of JW Howard/Attorneys, Ltd., in Pasadena argues Donato’s dismissal order “ignored the detailed allegations about Twitter’s partnership with the executive branch.”
“Those statements focused mainly on the effort to remove Trump from Twitter. They did not relate to the government’s efforts to censor dissenting COVID views made by people like Dr. Wolf,” Street wrote.
[Insert: Photo of Trump via Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Image of Twitter HQ vi Justin Sullivan, Getty Images]
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