A new lawsuit claims the Biden Administration used its fight against “misinformation” to violate the First Amendment.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Lousiana Attorney General Jeff Landry contend that top government officials have unfairly blocked speech they did not like from “the modern public square” under the guise of stopping the spread of false information about COVID-19, election integrity, and other topics.
“Freedom of speech is paramount to a healthy society and discourse, debate, and discussion have been the cornerstone of our country since the Founders codified that right in the Bill of Rights,” Schmitt said in a press release.
“Missourians and Americans use social media platforms, which are now ubiquitous in our modern society, to discuss topics like the efficacy of masks and the veracity of the lab-leak theory,” the attorney general added. He said the federal government has “been engaged in a pernicious campaign to both pressure social media giants to censor and suppress speech and work directly with those platforms to achieve that censorship.”
“I will not stand idly by while the Biden Administration attempts to trample on the First Amendment rights of Missourians and Americans,” said Schmitt.
The official said President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and other officials colluded with companies including Meta, Twitter and YouTube to remove accurate information that challenged ideological viewpoints.
“Having threatened and cajoled social media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation,’” the suit reads.
Other defendants include Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandros Mayorkas, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, and Disinformation Governance Board executive director Nina Jankowicz.
The Attorney Generals have accused the defendants of intentionally “colluding and coordinating with each other,” thereby empowering social media platforms to “identify disfavored speakers, viewpoints, content and thus have procured the actual censorship and suppression of the freedom of speech.”
“Ripped from the playbook of Stalin and his ilk, Biden has been colluding with Big Tech to censor free speech and propagandize the masses,” Landry said in a statement to Newsmax. “We are fighting back to ensure the rule of law and prevent the government from unconstitutional banning, chilling, and stifling of speech.”
The lawsuit says the Biden Administration used Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act to assist in the coordinated effort to silence certain groups and people online: “The federal government subsidized, fostered, encouraged, and empowered the creation of a small number of massive social-media companies with disproportionate ability to censor and suppress the speech on the basis of speaker, content, and viewpoint.”
While the government has said it only purged extreme or dangerous views, the lawsuit argues it used its relationship with social media to also block “perfectly legitimate, responsible viewpoints and speakers.”
In April of 2021, lawmakers in Louisiana supported a bill that allowed state residents to sue major social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for up to $75,000 if they believe their content was censored or deleted.
The platform has to have over 75 million users to be potentially subject to legal action under Senate Bill 196, otherwise known as the Stop Social Media Censorship Act.
The measure died in committee.
The new legal effort to protect residents of Louisana and Missouri from social media censorship filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Western District of Louisiana.