Judge tosses Gabbard lawsuit against Google

A federal judge on Wednesday tossed Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s lawsuit against Google, dismissing the Hawaii congresswoman’s allegations that the tech giant censored her free speech rights by briefly suspending her presidential campaign ads.

Judge Stephen Wilson, a Reagan appointee, shot down Gabbard’s key arguments, most prominently affirming that Google is not the government and therefore can’t be held liable for violating her First Amendment rights.

The Gabbard campaign’s “essential allegation is that Google violated [her campaign’s] First Amendment rights by temporarily suspending its verified political advertising account for several hours shortly after a Democratic primary debate,” Wilson wrote in a filing on Tuesday.

He added that her claim “runs headfirst into two insurmountable barriers — the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent,” quoting a recent decision that affirmed Google is legally allowed to censor any content on its services, including YouTube.

Gabbard, the long-shot presidential candidate known for bucking her own party, sued Google in July in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging the tech behemoth censored her presidential campaign when it suspended the advertising account for several hours after a Democratic debate. Google refuted her claims, chalking up the brief suspension to a technical malfunction.

Gabbard’s lawsuit marked the first time a presidential contender has sued a large technology company over such claims.