In a pithy decision that reads in the tone of “are you sure you even understand the law?” the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit against Big Social Media (and Apple). Right-wing YouTuber Laura Loomer and non-profit Freedom Watch sued Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple in 2018, alleging an anti-conservative conspiracy.
While the appeals court believed the pair had standing, their attempts to connect their complaints to violations of the First Amendment, antitrust law, and human rights law fell exceedingly short.
How did we get here? — Loomer joined Freedom Watch’s suit in 2018 after getting banned from Twitter due to a slew of pejorative tweets about then Representative-elect Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Freedom Watch asserted that large tech platforms were working in concert to silence conservative users, cutting into the organization’s revenue and reach.
Nice try — The appeals judges, the majority of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, determined the plaintiffs had standing to sue, but didn’t connect their grievances to the law. The First Amendment defense can only be applied to government entities found suppressing free speech. They also failed to provide any evidence of an agreement between the platforms to diminish conservative presence in order to invoke precedents relating to the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Finally, they made a political discrimination claim based on the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. Yes, the woman who claimed Omar supported Sharia law based only on her faith felt discriminated against. Despite the D.C. Attorneys General penning an unexpected amicus brief to remove the physical location requirement of the law, the appeals court basically said “we’ve covered this before; it needs to occur in an actual place.” An additional disjointed attempt to try to fold in disability law’s public accommodations also failed miserably.
This isn’t over — Larry Klayman, the lawyer for Loomer and Freedom Watch, isn’t going to let this decision lie, according to Bloomberg. He believes the court acted in response to Trump’s threats to regulate or shut down social media companies. Klayman plans to petition for the case to be heard in front of a larger pool of judges, and he’ll take the case to the Supreme Court if it comes to that.
If you’re astounded that after two courts said “you’ve got something here, but you’re going about it the wrong way” Klayman is intent on pushing forward, don’t be. This case isn’t about recouping damages for revenue Freedom Watch lost or the lost audience numbers for the organization and Loomer.
His recent statements show what this is all about — getting to the Supreme Court. Win or lose, reaching that level would provide a massive, public stage, fanning the perceived (nonexistent) anti-conservative bias flames. Because why worry about actually understanding how the law works when you can peddle in misplaced outrage instead?