A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Friday aimed at ending Twitter's ban on former President Donald Trump from the platform.

The litigation was filed after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter in the days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Twitter, joined by other social media platforms in banning Trump, said the decision was made "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California sided with Twitter in its motion to dismiss four claims against the company but left the door open for plaintiffs to file an amended complaint.


"The amended complaint alleges that the other named plaintiffs also had their Twitter accounts treated unfavorably. ... In plaintiffs’ view, these account actions were the result of coercion by members of Congress affiliated with the Democratic Party," Donato wrote. "The amended complaint is dismissed in its entirety. ... Plaintiffs may file an amended complaint that is consistent with this order by May 27, 2022."

The lawsuit was brought forth by Trump, the American Conservative Union, and five individuals in July of last year seeking to get themselves and others who had been kicked off Twitter back on the platform. The complaint had been amended over time by lawyers for the plaintiffs. In his ruling, Donato ripped apart the plaintiffs' four claims, which cited the First Amendment, Section 230, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act.

"Plaintiffs’ main claim is that defendants have 'censor[ed]' plaintiffs’ Twitter accounts in violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs are not starting from a position of strength. Twitter is a private company," Donato wrote in his ruling. "Plaintiffs’ only hope of stating a First Amendment claim is to plausibly allege that Twitter was in effect operating as the government under the 'state-action doctrine.'"

The judge concluded the plaintiffs failed to show that Twitter "acted as a government entity" and dismissed the First Amendment claim. Donato determined the plaintiffs lacked standing in their Section 230 claim in which they sought a declaratory statement calling the law unconstitutional. The law grants immunity to internet platform companies such as Twitter, ensuring that they would not be treated as publishers.

The judge also sided with Twitter in its contention that the plaintiffs signed Twitter's terms of service, which calls for California law to "govern all disputes that arise between Twitter and its users," thereby hindering the claim made under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Although Twitter did not use the choice of law justification for the claim under Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act, Donato determined the claim included some actions that took place prior to the law's enactment on July 1, 2021. He also noted that Florida was enjoined from enforcing that law by another court and dismissed the claim as a result.

John Coale, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, told the Washington Examiner they are deciding on how to respond to the ruling, noting plans to eventually take the case to the Supreme Court.

"We're looking at either going straight to the 9th Circuit or amending the complaint to ... take another shot, but we don't know at this point," he said. "Last year, we said this thing was going to go to the Supreme Court. We didn't expect it would be one at the trial level. This is an Obama appointee."


Two weeks ago, Trump said he did not plan to return to Twitter even if the ban was to be lifted amid Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover of the social media giant. Instead, Trump said he will focus on his own social media platform, Truth Social, which recently opened to consumers.

Twitter was once a major hobby for Trump, who frequently stirred controversy on the platform with his brash and provocative tweets throughout his presidency.