White nationalist Jared Taylor can proceed with a lawsuit against Twitter for banning his account, as well as the account of his publication, American Renaissance, a judge in California ruled this week.
In his decision, Judge Harold Kahn in San Francisco rejected Twitter's argument that the matter should be dismissed at an early stage under a California's anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) law, which aims to protect free speech about matters of public importance. Twitter had argued that its First Amendment right to decide what content to allow on its platform was threatened by Taylor's suit.
Taylor and American Renaissance were permanently suspended last December, soon after the platform announced a crackdown on "violent extremist groups."
In February, Taylor alleging in a lawsuit that the company wrongly discriminated against him based on his political views. Taylor claimed that the account suspensions violated several California laws, including one dealing with unfair business practices.
Twitter countered at a hearing on Thursday that it has the right to suspend accounts for any reason.
Kahn questioned Twitter's lawyer about whether that position was consistent with prior statements by executives who had previously called the company the "free speech wing of the free speech party."
Twitter's lawyer argued that the company was entitled to change its position.
"Your Honor, you're suggesting that a general statement six years ago somehow binds Twitter -- when does that stop?" the lawyer said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "Twitter can't evolve, as the world changes vastly, and sees that white supremacy is having a major problem on its platform, it can't act to control that?"
The decision comes one week after a different judge -- Kimberly Gaab in Fresno County -- threw out a lawsuit against Twitter by right-wing activist Charles Johnson, who was banned from the service in 2015. Gaab said in a "tentative ruling" that Twitter has the right to decide what speech to allow on its platform.