On Wednesday Donald Trump announced that he intends to file a lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, Google, and their executives for not allowing him to disseminate dangerously inflammatory lies. It’s a laughably pathetic legal stunt populated by a clown show of disreputable attorneys making preposterous arguments.
Trump’s lawsuit has been recognized by most legal experts as a frivolous abuse of the court system that is aimed more at fleecing his cult followers than prevailing in court. But undeterred by rational legal analysis, Fox News jumped eagerly into supporting Trump’s futile legal antics. On Wednesday evening Sean Hannity invited Alan Dershowitz to comment on the litigation. Dershowitz was a member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, so his prejudices and intellectual deficiencies are apparent. However, he was truly skirting the edges of coherence when he engaged in this exchange with Hannity:
Hannity: Seems like a strong case. But obviously nothing is a slam dunk.
Dershowitz: This is the most important First Amendment case of the 21st century, and it’s important because it pits freedom of speech on the one hand against the First Amendment on the other hand. That may sound paradoxical, but remember, it’s the high tech giants that are banning freedom of speech. They are censoring. But they are claiming the right to do so under the First Amendment. So they’re using the First Amendment as a sword against freedom of speech.
First of all, Hannity’s assertion that Trump has a “strong case” is contrary to reality. Not only does the case fail on legal grounds, it was filed in in the wrong jurisdiction – Florida rather than California – and may be dismissed on that alone. That’s just more proof that this is a charade for profit and that Trump and his lawyers don’t have any real intention of winning.
As for Dershowitz, he is making it hard to believe that he was ever regarded as a constitutional scholar. He began his remarks by portraying the case as “the most important First Amendment case of the 21st century,” when it isn’t actually a First Amendment case at all. For it to be a First Amendment case there would have to be government involvement in suppression of free speech. But Trump’s targets are all private companies. Trump’s lawyers are trying to claim that the social media companies are “government actors,” but that’s an imaginary label with no legal validity.
Where Dershowitz goes off the rails entirely is the nonsense that the “high tech giants” are claiming First Amendment protection to censor Trump. They are not. They have never asserted a First Amendment protection because they aren’t being suppressed by the government. What’s more, they have every right to monitor what appears on their websites. By Dershowitz’s standards, I should be able to force Fox News to give me airtime every night.
Furthermore, they are not “banning freedom of speech.” Trump, as he has said himself, has many opportunities to express himself, some of which he has claimed are superior to the companies he’s suing. “I’m really getting the big word out,” Trump bragged, “because we’re doing releases. And every time I do a release it’s all over the place. It’s more elegant than Twitter.”
Once again, Trump opens his big mouth and undermines his own arguments. In fact, his “releases” are actually undermining the entire premise of his lawsuit. Every time he makes incendiary statements about how the “Radical Left Democrats“ will “further DESTROY our Country,” and that the 2020 presidential election was “disgraceful and corrupt“ and “RIGGED and STOLEN,” he’s affirming the decisions by the social media platforms to remove his violence inciting account. So the more he keeps talking, the better. (Geez, I never thought I’d say that).
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