In a landmark decision that should have all Americans cheering, a Louisiana federal court recently upheld their First Amendment right to speak without being censored by the government. Judge Terry Doughty said the case, Missouri v. Biden, “arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”
Judge Doughty issued a preliminary injunction forbidding numerous federal agencies, including the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as many individuals within the executive branch like White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, from communicating or meeting with: “[S]ocial-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 bans the feds from working with outside groups such as the Stanford Internet Observatory that induce social-media companies to suppress and delete “protected free speech.” And it even prevents the government from “notifying social-media companies to Be on The Lookout (‘BOLO’) for postings containing protected free speech.”
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay of Judge Doughty's injunction while the case is on appeal before the 5th Circuit, and said the appeal will be heard on an expedited basis.
Missouri and Louisiana, alongside five individual plaintiffs, including Jim Hoft who runs The Gateway Pundit and two infectious disease epidemiologists, challenged the alleged collusion of the Biden administration with social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. They claimed the administration was suppressing dissenting voices and controlling the narrative on numerous issues including elections; the effectiveness of masks and the COVID vaccine as well as the COVID lab-leak theory; the Hunter Biden laptop story; parodies that targeted the defendants; and negative posts about the economy and President Joe Biden.
The court's ruling underscores the importance of safeguarding our First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of expression in a time when advances in technology make it ever easier for the government to suppress speech it disagrees with on numerous issues, disagreements that the government tried to justify by labeling it as “misinformation.” That is exactly what the Chinese Communist government has become expert in.
Judge Doughty’s 155-page opinion has page after page after page detailing the extensive meetings, emails, and other communications between government officials badgering and threatening social-media executives to censor and close accounts. Platforms like Facebook were actually providing their government handlers with reports on how they were carrying out the government’s directed censorship.
The FBI’s continued claim that it was only concerned with “disinformation” by foreign countries is directly contradicted by the evidence in the case. Judge Doughty concluded that the “FBI made no attempt to distinguish whether those reports of election disinformation were American or foreign.” And it is obvious from the facts that the many government officials and agencies involved were only concerned with censoring any views, opinions, and claims – foreign or domestic – that disagreed with, or criticized their (and the government’s) political, social, and medical orthodoxy on multiple issues.
They were engaging in viewpoint discrimination, a direct and blatant violation of the First Amendment, and according to Doughty, “virtually all of the free speech suppressed was ‘conservative’ free speech.” While the First Amendment normally only applies to the government and not private parties like Twitter and Facebook, these social-media platforms essentially became agents of the government. Through them, the government used its “coercive power or exercised such significant encouragement that the private parties’ choice [to censor] must be deemed to be that of the government.”
The result was the suppression of “millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens.” Doughty concluded that “substantial evidence” of the government’s extensive, widespread, coercive behavior “depicts an almost dystopian scenario” in which the “United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’" Or perhaps similar to the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
The fact that the Biden administration has appealed this decision should enrage the American public. The injunction against the government only applies to First Amendment- protected speech. Doughty very specifically makes exceptions for a host of other communications between the government and social-media platforms, including criminal activity and conspiracies; national security and public safety threats; criminal efforts to suppress voting or provide illegal campaign contributions; cyber-attacks; and foreign attempts to influence elections.
Yet the Biden administration says this injunction should be overturned so it can “promote responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security,” i.e., continue to censor the public postings and opinions of American citizens.
A refresher on the sordid history of the federal government’s free speech abuses, and specifically the FBI’s, is in order. The FBI engaged in a nefarious campaign against Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders of civil rights organizations that included illegal wiretaps and informants. Why?
Because the FBI pinned them as radicals whose activities and misinformation were a security threat, with J. Edgar Hoover labeling King as the “most notorious liar in the country.”
Given that history, is there anyone who doubts that if the Internet and social-media platforms had existed in the early 1960s, the FBI would have coerced social-media platforms in their campaign against the civil rights movement? The same way the Biden administration has tried to disrupt anyone who disagrees with it on current issues?
Government bureaucracies and the Biden administration cannot be trusted, and the courts should keep this injunction in place. The administration has chosen to defend unconstitutional actions mirroring that of an Orwellian dystopia to censor lawful speech in the name of “public health, safety, and security.”
But only as they determine what is the “truth.” That is the road to tyranny.
This piece originally appeared in Fox News