A federal judge issued a historic, 155-page ruling on Independence Day citing “substantial evidence” the federal government engaged in large-scale censorship efforts targeting social media content that questioned or countered its “official” narratives. The 86 pages of background facts detail a shocking pattern of consistent pressure and threats exerted by the Biden administration demanding that social media platforms censor protected speech.
In the lawsuit, attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri presented 1,432 facts showing top government officials and agencies “colluded” with social media companies in a “censorship-by-proxy” scheme to suppress and censor opposition to COVID-19 policies, Biden administration policies, validity of both the 2020 election and Hunter Biden laptop story, and more.
In response to the evidence, Chief U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty for the Western District of Louisiana concluded, “the alleged suppression has potentially resulted in millions of free speech violations.”
Judge Doughty reviewed evidence derived from thousands of internal federal records revealing correspondence between officials and technology companies in their exact words. Judge Doughty’s ruling contains 86-pages summarizing the involvement of the White House, the Departments of Justice, State, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, FBI, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) in “pressuring” or “encouraging” the censoring of social media content.
Excerpts from Judge Doughty’s ruling include:
- White House Defendants
– Clarke Humphrey, former Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team, urged Twitter in January 2021 in emails to remove a COVID-19 shot hesitancy post by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Humphrey wrote, “…we can keep an eye out for tweets that fall in this same genre.” Another email read, “Hey folks, wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process of having it removed ASAP.”
– Rob Flaherty, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy, chastised Facebook in an email for perpetuating certain threads about COVID-19. Flaherty wrote, “Not to sound like a broken record, but how much content is being demoted, and how effective are you at mitigating reach, and how quickly?”
- CISA Defendants
– Judge Doughty wrote, “CISA engaged with Stanford University and the University of Washington to form the Election Integrity Partnership whose purpose was to allow state and local officials to report alleged election misinformation so it could be forwarded to the social media platforms to review… According to [Renee] DiResta [at Stanford, a frequent collaborator with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy], EIP was designed ‘to get around unclear legal authorities, including very real First Amendment questions’ that would arise if CISA or the other government agencies were to monitor and flag information for censorship on social media. Therefore, the CISA Defendants aligned themselves with and partnered with an organization that was designed to avoid Government involvement with free speech in monitoring and flagging content for censorship on social-media platforms.”
- FBI Defendants
– “According to the Plaintiffs…the FBI had a 50% success rate regarding social media’s suppression of alleged misinformation.” Judge Doughty stated, “…the FBI participated in Industry meetings and bilateral meetings, received and forwarded alleged misinformation to social media companies, and actually misled social media companies in regard to the Hunter Biden laptop story…Even after Facebook specifically asked whether the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation…the FBI refused to comment, resulting in the social media companies’ suppression of the story.”
Judge Doughty said the evidence presented in the case paints the federal government as an “Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’”
Judge Doughty wrote, “…the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history. In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech.”
“This seemingly unrelenting pressure by [the] Defendants had the intended result of suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens,” Judge Doughty noted.
In a section of the ruling titled “Irreparable Harm,” Judge Doughty stated the plaintiffs have shown there is “substantial risk” of sustained harm to the American people if this censorship is allowed to continue.
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer an emergency, it is not imaginary or speculative to believe that in the event of any other real or perceived emergency event, the Defendants would once again use their power over social media companies to suppress alternative views…[and] use their power over millions of people to suppress alternative views or moderate content they do not agree with in the upcoming 2024 national election,” said Judge Doughty.
While the case continues, Judge Doughty’s preliminary injunction orders the federal government and thousands of federal employees from corresponding or engaging “with social media companies for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social media platforms.”
The injunction lists “Facebook/Meta, Twitter, YouTube/Google, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, Quora, Discord, Twitch, Tumblr, Mastodon, and like companies” as being restricted to the federal government when dealing on matters of protected speech.
The Biden administration has appealed the injunction to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Reading the factual findings of the disturbing pattern of censorship one would assume this is China or a dystopian novel. Sadly, this government-coordinated censorship occurred in America at the highest levels of government. The Biden administration and government agencies intentionally and knowingly deceived the public. Everyone involved must be held accountable.”