American independent journalist Alex Berenson, a vocal critic of the US government’s pandemic response, sued Twitter after the company kicked him off the site for describing Covid vaccines as an advance therapeutic with risky side effects. The complaint, which got its first preliminary hearing in a San Francisco federal court on 28 April, could be a test case for how Twitter will handle content moderation under the ownership of Elon Musk.

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Twitter tried to fend off a free-speech lawsuit on 28 April even as a federal judge asked if Elon Musk’s takeover might make the whole case moot.

“Your company has been taken over by a new owner, and your new owner may disagree with your position,” US District Judge William Alsup told Twitter’s lawyers at the hearing. “And I don’t want to have to spin my wheels and do a lot of work for nothing. So when is your new owner going to decide whether to continue with this lawsuit?”

The judge set a trial date as 8 May 2023.

Berenson began his anti-mask and vaccine mandate crusade last year, Daily Mail wrote, when an Op-Ed he penned for the Wall Street Journal claimed the pandemic had caused “a new age of censorship and suppression.” He was banned from Twitter over a tweet in which he stated that Covid vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission of the virus.

On 20 December 2021, Berenson filed a lawsuit in US District Court for Northern California seeking his reinstatement to Twitter and unspecified monetary damages over his permanent ban in August.

Why did Berenson choose to take legal action in California?  He explained in THIS article which he wrote en route to the preliminary hearing.

California has some of the strongest free-speech protections of any state, Berenson wrote. The free speech guarantee in the California Constitution makes the First Amendment look weak. Section 2 of Article 1 (behind only Section 1, “All people are by nature free and independent…”) reads:

Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.

The day after the preliminary hearing Berenson wrote: “[The trial] barely a year away. And if [the judge] does allow the suit to move forward, Twitter is likely to do everything it can to slow our progress … So, we need to get started with discovery NOW. Like today.

“We have just sent Twitter a list of questions we would like them to answer, documents we would like them to produce, and admissions of fact we would like them to make. Here’s a sample:”

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