Texas AG’s Investigation to Continue Following Failed Twitter Lawsuit
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tried to launch an investigation into Twitter’s platform policies after the suspension of former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, the social media giant responded by filing a lawsuit with a request for a restraining order intending to block the AG’s ability to conduct an investigation. However, a federal judge in California dismissed Twitter’s lawsuit, declaring it to be premature.
Paxton and his office are seeking official documents regarding Twitter’s decision-making process for banning users.
Twitter’s retaliatory lawsuit arose when Paxton attempted to enforce a demand requiring Twitter to surrender documentation regarding the process by which they decide which accounts to ban or not ban on their platform. While their lawsuit and temporary restraining order might have stalled the Attorney General’s investigation, the investigation is likely to continue in the aftermath of the dismissal.
Twitter argues that Paxton’s demands are an abuse of government authority.
In the lawsuit, Twitter argued that the Attorney General’s demands were a violation of their First Amendment Rights, as well as an unlawful attempt to harass and intimidate Twitter as the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the State of Texas. Twitter claimed the requests for documentation were retaliation against them for banning Donald Trump and others from the platform following the Capitol riots.
U.S. Code supports the Attorney General’s ability to issue a civil investigative demand if there are suspicions of racketeering.
Racketeering typically refers to a business committing illegal acts and/or operating a business using illegally derived funds. Paxton argued that Twitter’s lawsuit was little more than an attempt to stop him from asking questions regarding their censorship and content-moderation policies.
According to U.S. Code 1968, “Whenever the Attorney General has reason to believe that any person or enterprise may be in possession, custody, or control of any documentary materials relevant to a racketeering investigation, he may, prior to the institution of a civil or criminal proceeding thereon, issue in writing, and cause to be served upon such person, a civil investigative demand requiring such person to produce such material for examination.”
This legal battle between the Texas Attorney General and Twitter will likely set an example for future investigative demands and lawsuits between government authorities and social media giants in the future, especially as social media platforms become increasingly involved in the political strife of the day.