A current landmark 1st Amendment case is ongoing in America – Missouri v. Biden. What is the permissible scope of the federal governments control over our free speech? Check out my latest legal article in the Sanford Herald, originally published on August 12, 2023.
Missouri v. Biden – Landmark 1st Amendment Case Injuncts Federal Government from Concerted Effort to Suppress Speech
On July 5, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted an injunction to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, preventing the United States Government from continuing to violate First Amendment rights for millions of Americans. In doing so, the judge had harsh words for the federal officials, stating that “this is the most massive attack against free speech in United States history,” and that “the Biden administration has blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech.”
When discovery began in July of 2022, Missouri and Louisiana Attorney Generals gathered documents and deposed top-ranking officials in the federal government under oath. In March of 2023, Attorney General Bailey filed the motion for an injunction citing more than 1400 facts showing top officials in the federal government coerced and colluded with big tech social media companies to violate Americans right to free speech.
An injunction is a legal order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another. In Missouri v. Biden, the injunction granted by Judge Terry A. Doughty specifically blocks the Biden Administration and the FBI from contacting social media platforms to censor specific individuals or information. Judge Doughty noted that the censorship methods and strategies employed by the federal government are similar to George Orwell’s “1984,” and that “the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario” where our federal government appears to have “assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.”
This alarming comparison was made after judicial review of over 20,000 pages of evidence uncovered that display the level of frightening coercion and collusion occurring daily between our federal government and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The Court found “unrelenting pressure” by federal officials to suppress lawful speech, and that the government’s actions “had the intended result of suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens.” Judge Doughty notes that at least 22 times “White House Defendants engaged in coercion to induce social-media companies to suppress free speech,” and that they “made it very clear to social-media companies what they wanted suppressed.”
Forced by the most powerful office in the world, these social-media companies complied with specific content restrictions as well as coerced policy changes. The court found threats of “legal consequences” were made to these social media companies by the White House Press Secretary should they not censor “misinformation” more aggressively. As the federal government is not the arbiter of what qualifies as “truth” or “misinformation,” the takedown of protected free speech related to “gas prices, parody speech, calling the President a liar, climate change, gender, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, support of Ukraine, and abortion” is unlawful.
Judge Doughty warned that there is nothing stopping the federal government from continuing to censor political speech without its injunction. The injunction is already working, as the State Department immediately canceled its “regular Wednesday meeting” with Facebook and all future meetings “pending further guidance.” Why did the State Department need a regular Wednesday meeting with Facebook? To control what we could say and read, according to United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Controlling the message is a tried-and-true technique of controlling the population; in the ongoing court battle against the largest First Amendment violation in
American history, there are two classes of victims, those having their speech restricted and those unable to listen to such speech. That’s every American.