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Twitter was handed a small setback on Tuesday when a federal judge refused to advance a lawsuit that it brought against Texas attorney general Ken Paxton.
The suit was filed after Donald Trump’s account was suspended and Paxton began investigating Twitter’s policies and procedures related to content moderation. “Twitter/Facebook closing conservative accts,” tweeted Paxton. “As AG, I will fight them with all I’ve got.”
Twitter, supported via an amicus brief from media companies, alleged that Paxton was abusing his authority by seeking to harass and intimidate in retaliation for its exercise of First Amendment rights. Rather unusually, the social media giant filed in California court rather than Texas — and did so partly based on how the Texas AG once consented to the Twitter User Agreement, which spells out where disputes are to be adjudicated.
Paxton claimed that he wasn’t subject to personal jurisdiction of a San Francisco federal court, but on this issue , Twitter prevails. U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney nods to the allegation how Paxton engaged in retaliatory conduct expressly aimed at chilling the speech of a California resident. The judge rules the forum is proper.
That noted, Twitter ultimately loses the case because Twitter doesn’t yet face any consequences for not obeying civil investigation demands.
“Unlike the defendants in the cases on which Twitter relies, the Office of the Attorney General has no authority to impose any sanction for a failure to comply with its investigation,” writes Chesney. “Rather, the Office of the Attorney General would be required to go to court, where the only possible consequence adverse to Twitter would be a judicial finding that the CID, contrary to Twitter’s assertion, is enforceable. Accordingly, as, to date, no action has been taken to enforce the CID, the Court finds Twitter’s lawsuit is premature, and, as such, is subject to dismissal.”
It’s possible that Paxton would indeed go to a court to enforce his investigative demands, but it’s highly likely such a move would be made in Texas. Thus, the AG would gain home field advantage.
Here’s the full ruling…
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