Court Battles

Federal judge in Florida says Trump Twitter case must be heard in California

A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday said former President Trump's legal effort to have his Twitter account restored must be heard in California.

Miami-based U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. ruled that Trump agreed to be bound by Twitter's terms of service in 2009 when he created his @realdonaldtrump handle while he was a private citizen. Those terms include a so-called forum selection clause requiring that suits against the San Francisco-based company be brought to federal court in Northern California. 

Scola, an Obama appointee, rejected Trump's claim that his position as a sitting president should exempt him from that requirement. 

"Trump's former status as the President of the United States does not preclude the application of the forum selection clause," Scola wrote in a 13-page ruling.

John Coale, an attorney for Trump, said he was not surprised by the ruling since the law imposes a "heavy burden" on those seeking exemptions from terms of service. But he noted the judge's ruling had no bearing on the underlying merits of the dispute.

"It doesn't affect the case at all, other than I've got to fly out to California instead of Florida," said Coale, who is based in Washington, D.C. 

Scola's move to transfer the case to California comes after another Florida-based judge transferred a Trump lawsuit against YouTube to federal court in California. A Trump suit against Facebook, however, is currently pending in the Sunshine State. 

Twitter banned Trump two days after his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. The company maintained at the time that the president's posts threatened to further incite violence. Trump had repeatedly made false claims on social media that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

A study by Zignal Labs showed that misinformation related to false election fraud claims fell by 73 percent after Trump and several others were suspended from Twitter and other mainstream social media platforms.

Trump filed suit against Twitter in July, and the company in September requested that the case be transferred to California.

Updated at 1:12 p.m.

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