Trump's Social Media Lawsuit Includes Constitutional Challenge to Section 230

Former President Donald Trump's recently filed lawsuits against social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube, contain a constitutional challenge, meaning that as required by law, the judges in each case have informed the Department of Justice (DOJ) and given them a chance to intervene.

"Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in the instant matter seeking, inter alia, declaratory judgement that Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional," read a document submitted Wednesday by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where Donald Trump et al. is listed as the plaintiff in a suit against Facebook Inc. et al.

In another suit where Twitter Inc. and Jack Dorsey are listed as defendants, district court certification documents read, "The Court hereby certifies to Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States, that the Plaintiffs have raised such constitutional challenges. The Court hereby provides that Mr. Garland is entitled to sixty (60) days from the date of this notice to intervene on behalf of the United States in this action."

A response from the DOJ regarding whether or it will intervene in this constitutional challenge is expected by mid-September.

Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which was written in 1996, says, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

The law has been used to create a sort of safe haven in the U.S. where social media companies can create platforms for free speech, without being held fully responsible for what their members might post. Users of sites like Twitter and Facebook are required to agree to terms that include Section 230 before they can access the platforms.

Under the law platforms are allowed to remove posts they say violate their terms or standards as long as they are acting "in good faith." Trump's suit argues that social media platforms are abusing the protections. But it also seems to be claiming that Section 230 itself is unconstitutional.

Newsweek reached out to an expert in constitutional law for clarification on the suits' arguments.

Experts have said Trump's social media lawsuits are garbled by trying multiple lines of argument at once, many that have failed in previous lawsuits. "They've argued everything under the sun, including First Amendment, and they get nowhere," said Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. "Maybe he's got a trick up his sleeve that will give him a leg up on the dozens of lawsuits before him. I doubt it."

Donald Trump
Since Former President Donald Trump's recently filed lawsuits against social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube, contain a constitutional challenges, the Department of Justice has been notified, and has 60 days to decide whether or not to intervene in the case. Here, Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference on July 11 in Dallas. Brandon Bell/Getty