Officials at Federal Gov't Agencies, White House Sued for Censoring COVID Information

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Originally published on www.thevaccinereaction.org by Carolyn Hendler, JD

Sixty-seven U.S. federal government agencies and officials, including senior officials in the White House, have been accused of engaging in a widespread campaign of pressuring and colluding with social media platforms to censor users in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Former Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, brought the lawsuit, Missouri v Biden, in an attempt to expose government officials and the coordinated efforts of Big Tech companies such as Twitter, Meta, YouTube and Facebook to censor information related to COVID-19, COVID countermeasures and election integrity.1 2

Defendants include the White House press secretaries; Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House senior COVID advisor and chief medical advisor to the president; FBI special agents; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); the State Department and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.3 4

The lawsuit filed in federal court in the Western District of Louisiana on May 5, 2022 alleges that the defendants not only violated the First Amendment, but that the Biden administration officials acted illegally and exceeded their authority in their communications with Big Tech companies and that DHS and HHS violated the Administrative Procedures Act. Included in the allegations are that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD specifically ordered Big Tech platforms to take expanded actions to combat information posted online that White House officials judged to be misinformation.6 7 8

Former Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt stated:

In direct contravention to the First Amendment and freedom of speech, the Biden Administration 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 in a misguided and Orwellian campaign against 'misinformation.'9

The lawsuit takes issue with the  creation of a Disinformation Governance Board by DHS for the purpose of combating what DHS officials believed was "misinformation" posted online. Critics have claimed that this includes silencing speech that may be critical of the Biden administration's policies.10 11 The case also calls out YouTube's silencing of discussions by U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis about whether wearing cloth masks was effective in preventing infection with and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.12

Attorney General Landry explained:

Big Tech has become an extension of Biden's Big Government, and neither are protecting the freedoms of Americans; rather, they are suppressing truth and demonizing those who think differently. Ripped from the playbook of Stalin and his ilk, Biden has been colluding with Big Tech to censor free speech and propagandize the masses. We are fighting back to ensure the rule of law and prevent the government from unconstitutional banning, chilling, and stifling of speech.13

Plaintiffs Recently Submitted Evidence in Support of a Preliminary Injunction

In March 2023, plaintiffs filed a Brief in support of their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction against the U.S. government arguing that they are entitled to a Preliminary Injunction because they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case. Plaintiffs assert that by colluding with private companies, the government is responsible for what amounts to private conduct and that their social media censorship violated the First Amendment. They point out that equitable factors such as "a substantial threat of irreparable injury" exists and is greater than any harms should the injunction be denied and that granting the injunction, "will not disserve the public interest."

Plaintiffs also request that granting a class-wide injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2) is warranted as the U.S. government's "large-scale civil-rights violations targeting entire classes of people."14

In support of their Motion for Preliminary Injunctive relief, plaintiffs cite more than 1,400 pieces of information gleamed from internal government documents.

A press release from current Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey reads:

The motion for preliminary injunction highlights 1,432 facts showing that top officials in the federal government are coercing and colluding with big tech social media companies to censor free speech… This case is the most important free speech lawsuit in a generation, as we highlight more than 1,400 facts showing the Biden Administration's blatant coercion and collusion with Big Tech social media companies to suppress speech it disagrees with. I will not rest until the court blocks unelected bureaucrats from violating our constitutional right to free and open debate.15

FOIA Requests Reveal Government Officials Pressured Big Tech to Censor Information

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal that government officials pressured Facebook and Instagram to censor information and on-line posts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went as far as pointing out specific posts that they considered misinformation to social media companies. An e-mail disclosed that a White House official pressured Facebook to take action against not only information they considered misinformation or disinformation but any content that could induce hesitancy among the public. In response, Facebook not only complied with requests to the remove posts, it also removed groups pertaining to COVID vaccine injuries.16

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said that certain pressure tactics were "punitive or vengeful" such as… "I want you to do this thing, and if you don't, then I'm going to make your life difficult in a lot of ways."

Government and Big Tech's Coordinated Efforts to Censor Information Has Far-Reaching Consequences

The outcome of Missouri v. Biden has significant implications that extend far beyond COVID and the 2020 election. Writing about the government and private partnership that has resulted in factual information being deemed fake news or censored from the internet altogether, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) warned in 2018:

An electronic wall is being built to block you from getting information you want so you only get information someone else decides you need. An electronic burning of the books has begun, and the people are being silently herded into a virtual Dark Age. While this censorship is starting with conversations about health and vaccination, it will not end there.

Those who have bought and control the Internet now have the power to restrict or block any kind of information they do not want you to see or talk about with your family, friends and others you connect with online.17


References

1 Devine M. Lawsuit reveals vast censorship scheme by Big Tech and the federal government. New York Post Oct. 23, 2022.

2 Krishan N. Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general accuse Biden of colluding with Big Tech. Washington Examiner May, 5, 2022.

3 Devine M. Lawsuit reveals vast censorship scheme by Big Tech and the federal government. New York Post Oct. 23, 2022.

4 Krishan N. Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general accuse Biden of colluding with Big Tech. Washington Examiner May, 5, 2022.

5 Ibid.

6 Laco K. Lawsuit filed against Biden, top officials for 'colluding' with Big Tech to censor speech on Hunter, COVID. Fox News May 5, 2022.

7 Ibid.

8 Brown S. Republican Attorneys General Sue Biden for Colluding With Big TechTownhall May 9, 2022.

9 Laco K. Lawsuit filed against Biden, top officials for 'colluding' with Big Tech to censor speech on Hunter, COVID. Fox News May 5, 2022.

10  Laco K. Republicans accuse Mayorkas of discrediting 'legitimate criticism' with 'disinformation' board, demand info. Fox News. Apr. 29, 2022.

11 Laco K. Lawsuit filed against Biden, top officials for 'colluding' with Big Tech to censor speech on Hunter, COVID. Fox News May 5, 2022.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 State of Louisiana, State of Missouri, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al. Case 3:22-cv-01213-TAD-KDM Document 212-2 Mar. 6, 2023.

15 Press Release. Andrew Bailey Missouri Attorney General  Mar. 6, 2023.

16 Stieber Z. Zuckerberg: Establishment Asked to Censor COVID-19 Posts That Ended Up Being True. The Epoch Times June 10, 2023.

17 Fisher BL. The New Internet Police Protecting You From Freedom of Thought and Speech. National Vaccine Information Center Dec. 3, 2018.

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