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Florida federal judge moves Trump lawsuit against Twitter to California court

The judge rejected the former president’s argument that he is exempt from a provision in Twitter’s user agreement requiring litigation against the company to be filed in California.

(CN) — Former President Donald Trump is not exempt from a binding clause in Twitter’s terms of service which requires his lawsuit against the social media giant to be moved to California federal court, a Florida federal judge ruled.

Miami-based U.S. District Judge Robert Scola, Jr. rejected Trump’s claim that he is excused from abiding by a forum selection clause in Twitter's user agreement because he was a sitting president at the time his Twitter account was suspended.

“Trump’s former status as the president of the United States does not preclude the application of the forum selection clause,” Scola wrote in his ruling issued late Tuesday, adding that the clause is “valid and mandatory” and Trump failed to show any reason why the case should not be transferred.

The Obama-appointed judge ruled that Trump failed to show that keeping the case in Florida is in the public interest.

All Twitter users are required to consent to the company’s user agreement, which says that all legal disputes related to the terms of service must be filed in federal or state courts in San Francisco County, California, where Twitter’s headquarters are based.

The user agreement exempts government entities or officials who use Twitter in their official capacities and who are legally unable to accept the forum selection clause.

Attorneys for the social media platform argued that the exception does not apply to Trump because he filed his lawsuit in his individual, rather than official, capacity and is seeking reinstatement of his Twitter account for personal use.

The case will be transferred from the Southern District of Florida to the Northern District of California for further proceedings.

The former president sued Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey in July after he was permanently suspended from the platform one day after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump has also filed class actions against Google-owned YouTube and Facebook for removing him from their platforms amidst fears that he might incite further violence.

Trump has alleged that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was de-platformed and that his ability to communicate his views with his followers has been unjustly stymied. He has also claimed that the companies were coerced by Democratic lawmakers to silence him and other conservatives.

Tuesday’s decision echoes similar findings in Trump’s lawsuit against YouTube.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, a George H. W. Bush appointee also based in Miami, granted YouTube’s motion to transfer the case to California, finding that the forum selection clause in YouTube’s terms of service was valid and Trump failed to show that public interest favored his preferred forum in Florida.

Earlier this month, the former president filed a request for a court order to reinstate his Twitter account. Similar motions demanding the restoration of his YouTube and Facebook accounts also remain pending.

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