Holocaust Denier Chuck C. Johnson Loses Lawsuit Against Twitter on Anti-SLAPP Motion
Holocaust denying Rage Furby Chuck C. Johnson (who is NOT ME) is having a really bad day.
Johnson foolishly thought he could sue Twitter for banning him. He was wrong.
Today in Fresno his lawsuit crashed and burned spectacularly, as the Court ruled in favor of Twitter’s anti-SLAPP motion. This means that unless it’s reversed on appeal (which is unlikely), Johnson will have to pay Twitter’s attorney costs — and that’s going to be a lot of very real money.
Anyone could have seen this coming, because Johnson’s suit was a classic example of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), exactly the kind of case anti-SLAPP statutes are designed to prevent.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Here’s the document; the ruling on Johnson’s case starts on page 27.
Johnson’s lawyer Robert Barnes is claiming on Twitter that they were victorious despite the fact that they, um, lost.
Good news in the tentative ruling of the court in Charles Johnson’s suit against Twitter. While the court mistakenly takes Twitter’s version of the facts (despite emails showing otherwise) and won’t allow Johnson’s suit to move forward (appeal coming), here is the BIG NEWS below.
Johnson v. Twitter Tentative Court Ruling: “Twitter is a public forum” & Twitter’s “control of its platform by allowing or preventing users’ tweets, is an issue of public interest.” Additionally, Twitter can only restrict speech if using “reasonable regulations” to govern access.
Flip side to Twitter case: court unduly defers to Twitter’s excuse for what happened even when self-serving & contradicts Twitter’s own internal emails; court also claims Twitter has a First Amendment right of a publisher but the Congressional immunity of a non-publisher platform
Techdirt’s Mike Masnick explains why this is a ridiculous claim.
The key points that Barnes declares “victory” over both appear to involve a somewhat twisted interpretation of what the court is saying. On the first point, of the court declaring Twitter to be a “public forum,” that is true, but specifically in the context of California’s anti-SLAPP law. I mean, the ruling says that explicitly:
In the instant case, the parties appear to agree that (1) Twitter is a public forum for purposes of the anti-SLAPP statute…
The fact that it is a public forum for the purposes of California’s anti-SLAPP statute has no bearing at all on whether or not Twitter is a “public forum” in the sense of spaces created by the government in which speech regulations are limited under the First Amendment. They both use the words “public forum” but they mean totally different things.
The second point, about Twitter’s control over its platform being a “matter of public interest,” is also specific to California’s anti-SLAPP law, which requires the speech in question to be about a matter of public interest. That doesn’t help Johnson’s case at all, unless you’re twisting this specific point concerning anti-SLAPP laws into believing it refers to the government having an interest in regulating how Twitter runs its website. But that would be a totally nonsense interpretation. Though it appears to be the one that Johnson’s lawyer wants to go with. The fact that Twitter agreed to both of the points that Barnes is now celebrating (as is necessary under California’s anti-SLAPP law) should show you why neither of these points is even remotely damaging to Twitter. And, no, this is not Barnes using 9th dimensional chess to get Twitter to admit to something that harms it elsewhere. This is just nonsense.