A federal judge has ordered the Biden Administration to show its communications with big tech companies which censored users on its platforms under the federal government’s direction.
The Biden administration’s motion to dismiss a landmark case alleging collusion between Big Tech and the government to censor COVID-19 information was recently rejected by US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty.
The lawsuit alleges that Big Tech platforms labeled information as “misinformation” and “disinformation” in violation of the First Amendment, and the government went beyond its authority.
At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
“The Court finds that the Complaint alleges significant encouragement and coercion that converts the otherwise private conduct of censorship on social media platforms into state action and is unpersuaded by Defendants’ arguments to the contrary,” Doughty wrote in his ruling.
“Further, while the Government may certainly select the messages it wishes to convey, this freedom is limited by the more fundamental principle that a government entity may not employ threats to limit the free speech of private citizens,” Doughty added.
Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey tweeted that Americans should be terrified of what Biden’s lawyers submitted to the judge regarding the reason for their total censorship of information on the platforms.
Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford School of Medicine professor, echoed Bailey’s warning on Biden’s administration’s reasoning for the suppression.
Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt accused the Biden administration of leading “the largest speech censorship operation in recent American history,” uncovered while he was Missouri attorney general.
“The Biden Administration has led the largest speech censorship operation in recent American history,” Schmitt said.
“Since taking office, President Biden and his team have labored to suppress viewpoints with which they disagree. And in so doing, they have infringed upon the individual freedoms of millions of Americans,” he said.
Schmitt accused the Biden administration of “colluding with social media giants Meta, Twitter, and YouTube to censor free speech in the name of combating so-called ‘disinformation’ and ‘misinformation,’ which led to the suppression and censorship of truthful information on a scale never before seen.”
Columbia Law School Professor Philip Hamburger wrote an op-ed titled “How the Government Justifies Its Social-Media Censorship,” he outlined how the federal government was using privately-owned social media platforms to censor free speech.
“When government uses private organizations such as Facebook and Twitter to censor speech, it’s widely assumed that the silenced speakers are suppressed merely by private actors, not by government.”
“The Supreme Court only recognizes this to be government suppression of speech when the government has exercised coercive power or has provided such significant encouragement, either overt or covert, that the choice must in law be deemed to be that of the State.”
“Because the First Amendment bars’ abridging’ the freedom of speech, any law or government policy that reduces that freedom on the platforms—for example, by obtaining content or viewpoint discrimination—violates the First Amendment,” he added.