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HomeNewsJudge orders Biden's ‘Ministry of Truth’ to stop censoring critics

Judge orders Biden’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ to stop censoring critics

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IN MAY 2022 the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, Eric Schmitt and Jeff Landry, filed a lawsuit in Louisiana against President Biden, Anthony Fauci, almost a dozen government officials and various federal agencies. The case, named Missouri v Biden, alleged that the defendants engaged in a coordinated, censorship-by-proxy scheme to collude with Big Tech in censoring content which questioned or countered establishment narratives on Covid-19 and Hunter Biden’s laptop. They sought a declaration that this practice constituted a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and a corresponding injunctive order. 

The accusation that President Biden and the government apparatus violated the First Amendment by censoring free speech behind a veil of secrecy, using its power to instruct or induce third parties in the form of Big Tech to de-platform people and remove content it did not like, was to become a flag-bearer for other legal challenges against censorship, which were subsequently filed against the same government officials and agencies, and against some of the world’s largest media corporations.

The tactics employed by powerful defendants to prevent cases like this from proceeding are to have the case dismissed or to get it transferred to a court of their choosing, and from there to get it dismissed. Defendants with unlimited resources can outspend and exhaust plaintiffs in this way by firing constant motions at the court where the case is lodged, each of which requires the plaintiffs to file lengthy legal briefs arguing against them. 

It was, therefore, a mini victory when in July 2022 federal judge Terry A Doughty of a Louisiana district court granted the plaintiffs limited investigatory powers (discovery), which enabled them to collect evidence, including emails sent by the White House to social media companies. 

In August 2022, several medical professionals and journalists joined the suit as co-plaintiffs, which became Missouri et al v Biden et al, and in November 2022, Children’s Health Defense (CHD) filed an amicus brief to assist in the preparation of the case, and several other organisations also moved to intervene in it.

All this enabled the AGs of Missouri and Louisiana to file in March 2023 a powerful summary of the evidence uncovered to date, along with a supplemental preliminary injunction brief.

Thus, when on July 4 the aptly named Judge Doughty delivered a momentous decision in this case in favour of the plaintiffs, significantly on the Independence Day public holiday, this was met with wide applause. The ruling denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case, and granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the White House, government agencies and their staff members from ‘engaging in communication of any kind with social media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected speech’. 

However, the injunction does not prohibit the Biden administration and federal agencies from communication with social media companies regarding criminal activities and potential cyber-crimes, national security threats, voter suppression efforts or threats to public safety not protected by free speech. 

The federal agencies named in the injunction include the FBI, the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

In his 155-page opinion, Judge Doughty wrote: ‘The US government seems to have assumed a role similar to that of an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”. Viewpoint discrimination is an especially egregious form of content discrimination.’ 

In the memorandum accompanying his ruling, he stated that the plaintiffs were ‘likely to succeed on the merits in establishing the government used its power to silence the opposition’. 

This outcome means that ‘general’ discovery has now been granted and the plaintiffs are empowered to conduct a wide-ranging investigation.

Louisiana special assistant attorney general John Sauer said: ‘Federal officials are most eager, most focused on silencing truthful speech . . . Left unchecked, federal censorship will reach virtually any disputed social and political question over which federal officials want to impose their power.’ 

The government’s first response has been to petition the court for a stay of the injunction, which was denied by Judge Doughty. They therefore appealed to the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals, which issued a temporary stay pending expedited oral arguments on August 10. 

John Sauer, who is also attorney for the plaintiffs, said it was ‘routine practice in the Fifth Circuit’ but that the government had ‘hardly bothered to dispute any of the factual findings’. 

There are a number of censorship cases filed in the Louisiana court on Judge Doughty’s bench. Missouri et al v Biden et al is ahead of the others and therefore the first to advance. However, on July 24, Judge Doughty consolidated ‘for all purposes, including discovery of evidence’ the on-going Missouri et al v Biden et al with another similar action filed in March 2023 against the same defendants, Kennedy [R F Kennedy Jr] et al v Biden et al. 

Some of the private plaintiffs in Missouri et al v Biden et al were concerned the merging of the two suits would delay their proceedings as the second case caught up, as well as prejudice their own because of RFK’s political profile, but Judge Doughty wrote in his ruling on the matter: ‘This Court does not decide cases based on politics, but based on the United States Constitution.’ 

While the Independence Day ruling represents a major milestone, it is in reality just the beginning of the battle in the US to reclaim the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. But it does appear that at last there is a gathering of momentum to dismantle the large-scale censorship enterprise which has enabled so many evils to be inflicted on society. 

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Serena Wylde
Serena Wylde
Serena Wylde is multi-lingual with a keen interest in law and ethics.

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