Court Dismisses Loomer Lawsuit Against Tech Companies

Court Dismisses Loomer Lawsuit Against Tech Companies
Laura Loomer, second from left, holds up a phone at an event in Los Angeles, Calif., in an Oct. 20, 2018, file photograph. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon)
Zachary Stieber

A federal court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by independent journalist Laura Loomer, who said technology companies violated her rights by banning her from their platforms.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Loomer and the nonprofit organization Freedom Watch didn't prove the companies—including Google, Twitter, and Facebook—violated antitrust laws.

"Freedom Watch argues that we should infer an agreement primarily from the Platforms’ parallel behavior, as each company purportedly refused to provide certain services to Freedom Watch. But, as the district court explained, parallel conduct alone cannot support a claim under the Sherman Act," the three-judge panel wrote.

Judges claimed the companies in question cannot violate people's rights to free speech.

"Freedom Watch’s First Amendment claim fails because it does not adequately allege that the Platforms can violate the First Amendment," the panel wrote. "In general, the First Amendment 'prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech,'" it added, quoting a ruling from a prior case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck.

“Freedom Watch puts forth two additional factors that it claims suggest conspiracy: that the Platforms are pursuing a revenue-losing strategy and that they are motivated by political goals,” the panel also said. “But Freedom Watch does not explain why either factor tends to show an unlawful conspiracy, rather than lawful independent action by the different Platforms.”

 The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington on July 10, 2019. (Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images)
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington on July 10, 2019. (Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images)

The ruling came after the D.C. Attorney General’s Office filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, as did the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Both argued the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of, among other things, political affiliation, should apply online.

Loomer was banned from most major online platforms around the same time because, they alleged, she violated policies against hate speech when she criticized Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

Loomer is running for a seat in the U.S. House in Florida.

In a statement sent to The Epoch Times, Loomer said: “My lawyer and I are confident of success going en banc to the full court. Today’s decision is clearly politically motivated, given the fact the DC Circuit’s ruling comes the same day President Trump said his justice department would take serious action against these same big tech giants I have sued for censoring conservatives."

"There’s no such thing as a coincidence. We are prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court," she added.

Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, told the Epoch Times: "It looks like a very political decision, particularly one day after Trump said he was going to get his administration to break up the social media giants."

The ruling gave "short shrift" to the argument advanced by the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, he added, describing the judges' decision as "poorly written" and "outrageous."

An appeal led to this week's ruling after U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden dismissed the suit in March, ruling the complaint "includes no allegations, for example, that any of the platforms met or otherwise communicated an intent to collectively suppress conservative content."

McFadden was appointed by President Donald Trump.

The panel was comprised of Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith, appointed by President George W. Bush; Circuit Judge Judith Rogers, appointed by President Bill Clinton; and A. Raymond Randolph, appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

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