Donald Trump’s 24-hour bathroom attendant Devin Nunes is applying Sarah Palin’s theory of the First Amendment to a nine-figure lawsuit:
Representative Devin Nunes, who is bringing a $250 million suit against Twitter because he has been the subject of mean tweets, is not an obscure kook. He is a famous and highly influential kook who chairs [sic] the House Intelligence Committee. From this perch, he has largely orchestrated President Trump’s legal defense in the Russia scandal, ejecting a wild flurry of charges that Trump is the subject of a deep state conspiracy, running a sham inquiry that claimed to clear the president of all wrongdoing, and feeding scoops to the conservative media to support Trump’s no-collusion narrative. For these efforts, Trump has praised Nunes as “a very courageous man,” and suggested that he deserves to win the Medal of Freedom.
I have spent innumerable hours excavating the loopy theories emanating from Nunes. And yet none of that prepared me for the full barking-mad preposterousness of his lawsuit. It might by the most staggeringly juvenile and inadvertently hilarious document I have ever read.
Nunes provides almost no arguments to support his demand, which would overturn decades of well-settled legal precedent. In place of the extremely novel constitutional case he needs to make, his lawsuit asserts that the existence of very mean tweets “runs contrary to every tenet of American Democracy, including the guarantees of both the First Amendment and Article I, § 12 of the Virginia Constitution. In the words of the late United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., ‘If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.’” You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that this quote — defending the existence of speech from those we hate — supports the exact opposite position from Nunes.
Farcical as this is, there’s a darker side to it. Even a lawsuit as ridiculously frivolous as this costs resources to defend against. Republicans and/or wealthy plutocrats trying to weaponize the courts to intimidate critics and work the refs (platforms and content providers alike) is a problem that’s going to get worse before it gets better.