first amendment, first amendment violation, Impeachment, manhattan, naomi reice buchwald, president, sonja r. west, suit, trump, twitter, unblocked, university of georgia school of law, users
It was reported today that Donald Trump unblocked several more Twitter accounts pursuant to a ruling from May 23rd. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan held that government official’s twitter accounts were public forums and that blocking users based on their political beliefs was a violation of their first amendment rights. Sonja R. West, of the University of Georgia School of Law, offers a more in depth analysis of the intricacies of bringing a first amendment lawsuit against the President in her article entitled Suing the President for First Amendment Violations. Though she expresses some doubt about the capacity of one to sue the President for first amendment violations, West concludes: “courts should take into account the potential damage to our public debate if the President cannot be held accountable for violating the expressive rights of the people.” It would seem that Judge Buchwald agreed.
What do y’all think of Ted Cruz’s assertion that if internet companies are not a “neutral platform,” they should not be protected by a law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?
Thanks for the question. Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (47 U.S. Code § 230) provides “interactive computer services,” providers of software which grant multiple users access to the internet, immunity from liability which could be incurred from the content posted using their software. For example, if one were to post a libelous statement in the comment section on this blog, impeachableoffenses.net would be immune from suit. I believe what Senator Cruz is suggesting is that if internet companies are not neutral in their facilitation of content then they are effectively a “developer” of the questionable content, and therefore should be responsible for what damage it causes. There is something to be said of this stance. In
MCW, Inc. v. Badbusinessbureau.com, L.L.C., a case from a district court in Texas (the state Cruz represents), it was held that when an internet publishers steps outside its “traditional publisher’s editorial role” by actively encouraging the collection of specific content, they are taking a developmental role and are therefore not protected by section 230. What this means practically is that if I were to encourage you to reply to this comment with libelous statements about Senator Cruz, I would not be immune from suit (at least not in Texas). That being said, there is a difference between actively encouraging users to post certain content and merely organizing software so that certain content is favored (which is what Trump alleged Google was doing). I am unsure of how a court would treat that case. It is an interesting question though!
Donald Barnes said:
I and I are late to this discussion. The greatest free speech infringement of the principal current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is what is previously referenced in your blog is his opposition, to put it mildly, to kneeling football players in the NFL.
I and I had previously given the NFL props for not yielding to 45’s initial emissions on this matter, but, now, the NFL has instructed players to not engage in free speech by staying in the locker room. There seems to be some continuing negotiations on this matter with the NFL and the players union, but, if the league and the players union agree to curtail this speech would not both be conspiring with 45 to limit the free speech rights of NFL players by censoring kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem? I and I await to kick off of the 2018-19 NFL season, mostly because of my addiction to NFL football, but, also to see if 45 has been entangled in an impeachable offense under section 18 U.S. Code Sec. 241.
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