Twitter’s Case Against Texas AG Dismissed as ‘Premature’

The Northern District of California court presiding over Twitter Inc.’s lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed the case for want of subject matter jurisdiction on Tuesday. The lawsuit sought to halt Paxton’s investigation into Twitter’s content moderation practices following the suspension of accounts linked to the January attack on the U.S. Capitol.

As previously reported, the online message sharing platform suspended and restricted numerous accounts for violations of its content policies in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. Then-President Donald Trump’s account was among those suspended for purportedly glorifying or inciting violence and manipulating or interfering with civil processes.

According to Twitter, Paxton launched his Jan. 13 investigation and issued a Civil Investigation Demand (CID) to punish the company for making content moderation decisions he disagreed with. In March, Twitter filed suit alleging that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars the retaliatory investigation. During the litigation, various amici curiae joined in on behalf of Twitter and Paxton. 

On March 29, Paxton moved to dismiss, alleging, among other things, that Twitter’s arguments were premature and therefore subject to dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In her seven-page opinion, Judge Maxine M. Chesney agreed.

At the heart of its analysis, the court found that Twitter faces no consequence for refusing to comply with the attorney general office’s demands, because the office “has no authority to impose any sanction for a failure to comply with its investigation.” Instead, the office would first be required to go to court, “where the only possible consequence adverse to Twitter would be a judicial finding that the CID … is enforceable.”

The court explained that to date, no action has been taken to enforce the CID. Thus, Judge Chensey wrote, Twitter’s claims are not yet ripe for review. 

Twitter is represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and Paxton by the Office of the Attorney General of Texas and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.