A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a district judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Florida conservative political activist and media figure Laura Loomer, who alleged a Muslim civil-rights organization helped engineer her removal from Twitter.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed a November 2019 decision by U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz, who rejected Loomer’s claim that CAIR Foundation had “tortiously” interfered with her relationship with Twitter.
Loomer was banned from Twitter in 2018 after a tweet criticizing U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat who is a Muslim. Loomer and her company, Illoominate Media, Inc., filed the lawsuit last year in Palm Beach County circuit court, but it was later moved to federal court at the request of CAIR Foundation — a Washington, D.C.-based organization whose name is an acronym for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The appeals court Tuesday said Loomer did not meet legal requirements for pursuing the tortious interference claim against the organization.
“To begin, Loomer’s relationship with her Twitter followers is a relationship with the public at large,” said the 12-page opinion by Judges Kevin Newsom, Britt Grant and R. Lanier Anderson III. “The plaintiffs don’t allege that CAIR Foundation interfered with specific agreements with identifiable customers or donors; instead they allege that it interfered with Loomer’s relationship with the general Twitter community. But no matter how economically beneficial that relationship might be, no cause of action exists for interference with Loomer’s relationship with the general public.”
Also, the opinion said the lawsuit is “devoid of allegations suggesting that Loomer had legal or contractual rights in her Twitter account. In fact, Twitter’s terms of service, which the plaintiffs do not dispute, allow Twitter to ban Loomer from its platform for any reason at all. So even if CAIR Foundation instructed Twitter to ban her account, it did not tortiously interfere with a business relationship because Loomer did not have legal or contractual rights in the continued use of her account.”
Loomer has been a controversial figure and had about 265,000 Twitter followers at the time of her ban from the social-media platform, according to a July brief filed by her attorneys at the Atlanta-based appeals court.
The brief said Loomer alleged in the lawsuit that Twitter and the CAIR Foundation “targeted” Loomer “because of her past run-ins with CAIR Florida and because of her strident criticism of CAIR’s ‘favorite daughters,’ Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep Ilhan Omar.” Tlaib is a Muslim, while CAIR Florida is a chapter of the national organization.
But a September brief, attorneys for the CAIR Foundation described Loomer as a “notorious Islamophobe” and said the allegation of the group’s involvement in the Twitter ban stemmed from a prank played on Loomer by Nathan Bernard and Chris Gillen, who are described in the brief as “liberal pranksters.”
“Nevertheless, there is no tort claim under Florida law for instructing Twitter to ban someone from its website,” the brief said. “Appellants (Loomer and Illominate Media) are unable to identify a specific, protectable relationship under Florida law between Loomer and the public. Twitter’s own terms of service give it the absolute right to ban Loomer for any reason or no reason at all.”
The lawsuit initially named Twitter as a defendant, though the platform was eventually dismissed from the case, according to Tuesday’s opinion.
CAIR Florida also was named as a defendant, an issue that touched off a dispute about whether the case should be moved to federal court. Ruiz, however, dismissed CAIR Florida from the case, a decision that was backed Tuesday by the appeals court.
Republished with permission from The News Service of Florida.