ACLJ Takes On Biden Administration’s Historic Censorship Campaign in Federal Appeals Court
On July 4th, while Americans were celebrating the birth of our nation with family and friends, a federal judge in Louisiana was filing a 155-page ruling against the Biden Administration. The court opinion blew the lid off a federal assault against our liberties – a First Amendment violation of epic proportions.
Judge Terry Doughty had determined that the Administration had arguably been committing “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history” and issued a preliminary injunction against a host of cabinet-level departments and allied agencies operating under the Executive branch, temporarily preventing them from continuing this outrage. But the Biden Administration immediately pushed back with a quick appeal, demanding that the injunction be reversed.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has put this record-breaking case on a fast track, with oral arguments set for August 10th . Until then, the injunction is on hold. The ACLJ has filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the 5th Circuit. We argued for the injunction and in support of the states of Missouri and Louisiana that brought the lawsuit, along with several citizens who have been censored and kicked off giant social media sites at the request of the Biden agencies.
The evidence presented thus far to the U.S. district court is shocking. It shows a coordinated joint effort between the Executive branch of the federal government in Washington and giant Silicon Valley platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and the old Twitter before Elon Musk took it over. Under the pretense of fighting so-called “disinformation,” this partnership sought to silence the online voices of Americans when they posted information at odds with the political agenda of the Biden White House, particularly those with large numbers of followers.
The district court’s ruling shows how the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, the State Department, the FBI, the Justice Department, and many others collectively created a censorship campaign specifically targeting conservative political voices. When the views of those influential internet users opposing the Biden talking points gained online traction, federal officials, with the aid of tech intermediaries, would bullet censorship demands through a special digital portal directly to the high-level staff of the huge social media companies that dominate online information. Take-downs, blocking, and restrictions of those posts would result. Even truthful online statements were blocked if they could be treated as alleged “misinformation.” Meanwhile, most Americans had no clue that this under-the-radar speech suppression operation was underway.
No wonder the district court found this whole enterprise “Orwellian,” likening it to the totalitarian “Ministry of Truth” right out of George Orwell’s 1984.
What made this even worse, as we argued to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals: These censorship efforts were ratcheted-up when Americans needed the broadest amount of election-related political information and viewpoints the most – namely, during the 2020 general election and the 2022 midterms. After all, an informed electorate, as the Supreme Court has noted, is a necessity not only for constitutional governance nationally but also for the functioning of our states as well.
The constitutional damage caused by the Biden Administration’s speech suppression brigade is almost too immense to calculate. But one example that we shared with the Court of Appeals gives us a glimpse.
In the days leading up to the national election in 2020, and after being pressured by the Administration, both Twitter and Facebook blocked the New York Post’s smoking-gun coverage of what Hunter Biden’s laptop emails showed about his international dealings when his father, Joe Biden, was Vice-President. The emails suggested Joe Biden’s involvement in those foreign deals, which was a problem for his campaign because candidate Biden had denied any knowledge of them. The upshot of that sweeping act of censorship against the Post was its possible impact on the presidential election in 2020. Some data indicates that if the story had been widely circulated rather than suppressed, it could have, and likely would have, changed some voters’ minds.
This case is a battle for the First Amendment, election integrity, and your right to be informed – the most basic liberties enshrined in our Constitution. The ACLJ is in this fight to the finish.