REP. MARY PELTOLA VOTED FOR GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP IN MARCH
“If the allegations made by plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”
~ US District Judge Terry A. Doughty
On Independence Day, Louisiana U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty declared that the Biden Administration and its multiple agencies have been violating the First Amendment and are forbidden from contacting social media companies to discourage or remove free speech.
The judge concluded that the Biden Administration censored conservative perspectives on social media during the Covid pandemic. In 2022, President Joe Biden hired a “disinformation czar” to crack down on speech that was deemed inaccurate, and Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that his agency would creating a “Disinformation Governance Board.”
Nina Jankowicz was named the head of the new board. She worked for the National Democratic Institute, which is heavily funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, a left-leaning group. The disinformation board was quickly scrapped due to the controversy around it and the impending lawsuit.
The Tuesday ruling stems from a case filed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in May 2022.
“Today, we won an historic injunction against the Biden Administration, preventing it from censoring the core political speech of ordinary Americans on social media,” said Attorney General Landry. “The evidence in our case is shocking and offensive with senior federal officials deciding that they could dictate what Americans can and cannot say on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms about COVID-19, elections, criticism of the government, and more.”
The court order blocks the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Justice, members of the Executive Office of the President of the United States – including the White House Press Secretary, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Department of State.
“Today’s historic ruling is a big step in the continued fight to prohibit our government from unconstitutional censorship,” concluded Attorney General Landry. “We look forward to continuing to litigate the case and will vigorously defend the injunction on appeal.”
The topics suppressed on social media allegedly encompassed conservative perspectives on COVID-19, elections, government criticism, and more.
Judge Doughty in his 155-page ruling drew parallels between the case and George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” noting that the suppression of conservative viewpoints resembled the works of the “Ministry of Truth.”
He emphasized that all the censored topics on social media related to conservative perspectives, including opposition to COVID vaccines, lockdowns, masking, criticism of the president’s policies, questions regarding the 2020 election, and the Hunter Biden laptop controversy.
“The Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the Government has used its power to silence the opposition. Opposition to COVID-19 vaccines; opposition to COVID-19 masking and lockdowns; opposition to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; opposition to President Biden’s policies; statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true; and opposition to policies of the government officials in power. All were suppressed. It is quite telling that each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature. This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech. American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country,” Doughty wrote.
The judge’s order prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, and members of the president’s executive office from engaging in any discussions with social media companies that involve encouraging, pressuring, or inducing the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.
The Biden Administration had argued that the injunction would hinder the federal government’s ability to combat foreign influence on campaigns, prosecute crimes, protect national security, and provide accurate information to the public on matters of grave public concern, such as healthcare and election integrity.
In March, Rep. Mary Peltola voted against a congressional resolution that would bar federal employees from using their official power or influence to promote censorship or to advocate for a third party, such as Twitter or Facebook, to censor Americans or suppress their points of view. Federal employees found to violate the prohibition would be subject to civil penalties. Peltola was on the wrong side of the bill, which passed without Democrat support
The Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act was sponsored by Rep. James Comer of Kentucky. It was supported by the Republican majority in the House, and opposed by Democrats. Peltola and the Democrats also voted on a motion to recommit the bill back to the committee it came from, the House Oversight Committee, but the motion was opposed by the majority.
The free speech case brought by Louisiana is expected to reach the Supreme Court.