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Twitter filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday, claiming he used his political power to retaliate against the social media platform after it booted off former President Donald Trump.
The suit, filed in a Northern California court, said Paxton initiated a probe into Twitter following its decision to ban Trump.
Paxton announced in January he was issuing a series of investigative demands to Twitter as well as Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, and Apple. Paxton said the investigation was into the companies’ moderation decisions, and the “seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President of the United States.”
The lawsuit filed Monday said that Paxton “made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees,” per AP.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump in January following the Capitol riots. Facebook also suspended Trump “indefinitely,” as did YouTube — although YouTube said last week it would restore access to Trump’s account once it believed the “risk of violence” has passed.
In his January announcement, Paxton cited the First Amendment, saying “this large-scale silencing and the effects it will have on the future of free speech.” The First Amendment does not stop Twitter, as a private company, restricting speech, and is able to decide its own moderation policies.
In a statement to Insider, Twitter said Paxton was the one infringing the First Amendment. “A core part of Twitter’s mission is to protect freedom of expression and defend an Open Internet. We work every day to protect those interests for the people who use our service around the world,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
“The First Amendment protects everyone’s right to free speech, including private businesses. In this case, the Texas Attorney General is misusing the powers of his office to infringe on Twitter’s First Amendment rights and attempt to silence free speech.”
AP reported that press officers for Paxton did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday evening. Insider was not immediately able to contact Paxton’s office for comment.
In December, Paxton led the charge in launching a legal bid to overturn the result of the November 2020 election. He is also the subject of an FBI investigation into whether he violated bribery and abuse-of-office laws in dealing with a wealthy donor.