Court Denies Twitter’s Attempts to Stop Texas Attorney General’s Investigation

The Northern District of California denied Twitter, Inc.’s motion for an injunction pending appeal on Tuesday. This ruling is the result of an ongoing battle between Twitter and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as Twitter seeks to stop the attorney general’s investigation into Twitter’s content moderation, specifically the suspension of accounts linked to the Capitol attack on January 6.

On January 13, the attorney general issued a Civil Investigative Demand, seeking specified documents from Twitter described as “relevant to the subject matter of an investigation of possible violations of the DTPA (Texas Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act) in Twitter’s representations and practices regarding what can be posted on its platform.” In response, Twitter sought injunctive and declaratory relief to stop Attorney General Paxton from investigating further, citing the First Amendment to protect them from the investigation. 

On May 11, the court granted Attorney General Paxton’s motion to dismiss, calling Twitter’s motion for relief “premature.” Twitter then appealed this decision on May 27, asking the court to reverse their decision to stop the Attorney General’s investigation.

The court stated that Twitter did not demonstrate that “they are likely to succeed on the merits,” leading it to deny Twitter’s motion for an injunction. This ruling allows the attorney general to continue his investigation into Twitter’s potential violations of the DTPA, which may result in fines or penalties for the company if evidence is found to support Attorney General Paxton’s claims. Several nonprofit organizations have come out in support of Twitter via filing amicus briefs, worrying that penalizing Twitter will weaken free speech rights for citizens and private companies.

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.