A conservative foundation that monitors election law and government activity has filed a lawsuit against the state of California for its involvement in YouTube’s decision to censor one of its videos.
On Sept. 25, a video created and published on the platform by Judicial Watch titled “**ELECTION INTEGRITY CRISIS** Dirty Voter Rolls, Ballot Harvesting & Mail-in-Voting Risks!” was removed. The organization had posted the 26-minute video five days earlier.
The video features Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, analyzing vote-by-mail and noting potential security risks or possible errors.
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber on Sept. 29 alleging she violated the organization’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as the California Constitution.
The organization says Weber used her authority and official power over the state’s Office of Elections Cybersecurity (OEC) to have YouTube remove its video after personally decided its content was “misleading.”
Through a California Public Records Act request, Judicial Watch obtained emails between OEC Social Media Coordinator Akilah Jones and four members of the YouTube reporting team. Jones – using the email “[email protected]” – flagged Judicial Watch’s video and said it “misleads community members about elections” and “misrepresents the safety and security of mail-in ballots” on Sept. 24.
A Google representative told Jones on Sept. 27 via email that the video had been removed for violating YouTube’s policies.
Judicial Watch defended the video’s content in court documents.
“Mr. Fitton’s comments were informed by successful lawsuits brought by Plaintiff against Los Angeles County and Defendant in 2017 to compel the county and State to comply with the National Voter Registration Act’s voter list maintenance requirements… and against Governor Gavin Newsom and Defendant in 2020 challenging the Governor’s attempt to unilaterally change the State’s 2020 election procedures to an all vote-by-mail system,” Judicial Watch’s lawsuit states.
More than 504,000 people subscribe to Judicial Watch’s YouTube channel, which it says is “an important means of communicating with its followers and supporters and disseminating information to the public in furtherance of the organization’s public education mission.”
“Smoking gun documents show California government officials, who were being advised by the Biden campaign PR operation, caused YouTube to censor a key Judicial Watch video just before the 2020 election,” said Fitton in a statement. “This egregious government censorship and election interference violated Judicial Watch’s civil rights, and our lawsuit seeks to stop and expose the growing corruption of leftist government officials colluding with Big Tech allies to attack the free speech rights of Americans.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Central District of California Western Division.