Document Type


Publication Date



On June 26 and June 27, 2019, some twenty contenders for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States participated in two evenings of political debate. The outsized group included Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who was struggling to gain traction with voters. Shortly after the debate, while many viewers were conducting online searches to learn more about the candidates, Google temporarily suspended her campaign’s advertising account.

Google claimed that the interruption occurred because an automated system flagged unusual activity on the account. But Gabbard did not accept this explanation; she believed that Google deliberately had tried to undermine her campaign in retaliation for statements she had made that were critical of the tech giant. As a result, in July of 2019 her presidential campaign organization sued Google, alleging that the company had violated her First Amendment rights. The lawsuit sought $50 million in damages.


2022, Published in Communications Lawyer 38, no. 1, Fall (2022), by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association