A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit that Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard filed in July against Google, which alleged that the search giant was censoring her free speech and “intermeddling” in the election.
In a decision issued Tuesday, District Judge Stephen Wilson noted that Google isn’t part of the government, and so it isn’t bound by the First Amendment.
“What Plaintiff fails to establish is how Google’s regulation of its own platform is in any way equivalent to a governmental regulation of an election,” Wilson wrote. “Google does not hold primaries, it does not select candidates, and it does not prevent anyone from running for office or voting in elections.”
Google declined to comment. A spokesman for Gabbard didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision comes a week after a similar victory for Google from the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court ruled that Google’s YouTube and other sites such as Facebook and Twitter are allowed to censor content on their platforms.
In her lawsuit, Gabbard charged that Google stopped her candidacy from gaining momentum after the first Democratic debate last year by suspending her campaign’s advertising account for six hours. The complaint also alleged that Gmail sent Gabbard’s campaign emails to people’s spam folders more than it did so for other candidates. Gabbard sought at least $50 million in damages.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, was the first time a major presidential candidate had sued a big tech company.