Twitter has just sued the federal government to prevent President Donald Trump and former Marine General John Kelly from turning America’s vast and powerful Department of Homeland Security into the new thought police.
The San Francisco-based social media giant Twitter just filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Homeland Security for demanding that they unmask the identity of @ALT_uscis, an anonymous critic of President Donald J. Trump. The irony of the situation was not lost on the target of our government’s pernicious attempt to violate the First Amendment:
Twitter’s lawyers called out the Department of Homeland Security for abusing the powers vested in them to enforce federal laws strictly aimed at regulating imported merchandise, writing in their lawsuit (which is also embedded below):
“The rights of free speech afforded Twitter’s users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech.”
“In these circumstances, Defendants [DHS] may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed, that unmasking the users’ identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense, that the demand for this information is not motivated by a desire to suppress free speech, and that the interests of pursuing that investigation outweigh the important First Amendment rights of Twitter and its users.”
“But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings.”
Reuters reports that DHC concocted a lengthy list of excuses to pretend there’s a real government interest in unmasking this Twitter user, beyond our thin-skinned President’s mania to confront his critics:
The company said it received an administrative summons last month demanding that it provide records related to the account. The acronym CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account’s description refers to itself as “immigration resistance.”
A copy of the summons filed with the lawsuit says the records are needed for an investigation to ensure compliance with duties, taxes and fines and other custom and immigration matters.
Just like Trump’s failed Muslim ban, his administration is learning the hardest way, at the expense of citizen’s rights, that the exercise of government power in American democracy isn’t about issuing decrees, but about intent to do the right thing.
America’s government has too many real problems to become Trump’s thought police, and the very division of the federal government tasked with protecting us from terrorists is now busy demanding private information from citizens.
@ALT_uscis and had 33,000 followers an hour ago according to Reuters, but has quickly surpassed 50,000 followers now.
well now on CNN! and we gained 17000 followers in less than 30 minutes. Thank you CBP/Trump https://t.co/oojO8KgdWG
— ALT-immigration Puck Futin (@ALT_uscis) April 6, 2017
Plainly, Trump’s ploy has failed and is only making a national celebrity out of one of his fiercest critics.
Twitter’s lawsuit will be heard by California’s Northern District court, and if the government loses, an appeal would be directed to the same 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which just earned Trump’s ire for shutting down his Muslim travel ban.
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit:
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is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition and a Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.