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Friday, March 22, 2019

Devin Nunes' Lawsuit Against Twitter is an Attack on Every American's Right to Free Speech: New at Reason

By Peter Suderman - March 22, 2019 at 04:30PM


According to Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, the abuse he's endured on Twitter is of a "breadth and scope" that "no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life." He's been called a "presidential fluffer and swamp rat," a "Putin shill", an "unscrupulous, craven, back-stabbing, charlatan and traitor," and "voted 'Most Likely to Commit Treason' in high school."

Now, this California lawmaker and Trump ally is suing Twitter for $250,000,000, for "emotional distress and mental suffering, and injury to his personal and professional reputations." He's also asking the court to force Twitter to reveal the true identities behind "Devin Nunes' Mom", "Devin Nunes' cow", "Fire Devin Nunes" and "Devin Nunes Grapes."

So on what grounds can an elected official sue a social media platform for speech that offends him? "Twitter is not merely a website," the lawsuit alleges, "it is the modern town square,"—a "public forum" with a "private owner."

Named in the quarter-of-a-billion dollar lawsuit, right alongside "Devin Nunes' Mom" and "Devin Nunes's Cow" is Liz Mair, a Republican strategist and self-described libertarian, who angered Nunes, for among other things, delivering a pair of yellow New Balances to his congressional office after he ran out of a committee hearing on the Russia scandal.

Reason's Peter Suderman sat down with Mair to talk about the lawsuit and what it means for free speech on the internet.

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