Free Speech Lawsuit Updates
I recently joined as a plaintiff in this lawsuit against government sponsored censorship of science, brought by the state attorney generals of Missouri and Louisiana against the Biden Administration.
In a recent post I explained that I had submitted an expert witness declaration in a lawsuit brought by Missouri and Louisiana against Biden, CDC, Fauci, etc., for collusion with social media to suppress free speech:
Since then, I have joined this suit also as a plaintiff, not just an expert witness, along with my friends Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff. The case is now moving to the discovery phase. From the FISM News report (which contains a link to the plaintiff’s Complaint for you legal types who like to get down into the weeds)::
Big Tech censorship of COVID-19 information is at the center of a new lawsuit filed against the Biden administration.
A group of prominent doctors and scientists on Tuesday joined a lawsuit filed by the states of Missouri and Louisiana alleging that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) colluded with Big Tech social media giants to censor Americans discussing the pandemic on their platforms.
Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya, Aaron Kheriaty, and Martin Kulldorff joined the suit, alleging that their voices were silenced for expressing opinions on the pandemic that differed from the narrative pushed by the federal government. Specifically, social media platforms booted the doctors and banned their accounts for asserting that natural immunity could be superior to vaccinations in terms of preventing COVID infections and warning against the long-term negative effects of lockdowns and mandates.
The doctors are being represented by The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA).
“Social media platforms, acting at the federal government’s behest, repeatedly censored NCLA’s clients for articulating views on those platforms in opposition to government-approved views on Covid-19 restrictions,” NCLA said in a press release announcing the suit.
“This insidious censorship was the direct result of the federal government’s ongoing campaign to silence those who voice perspectives that deviate from those of the Biden Administration.” The release continued, citing public threats made by “government officials” to “punish social media companies that did not do their bidding” as well as emails sent by the CDC and DHS to social media companies “that only recently were made public.”
Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, and Kulldorff, a former professor of medicine at Harvard University and member of the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Subgroup, co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in which they expressed “grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies” and recommended a targeted approach that prioritizes the protection of the most vulnerable Americans.
They also warned against widespread mandates and lockdowns they believed would bring about more harm than good. Both men were subjected to intense pushback and public ridicule from government officials and other pro-mandate figures.
[…] Newly discovered documents obtained by America First Legal Foundation reveal that top U.S. health officials worked hand-in-hand with big tech companies to moderate content related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Daily Caller.
America First Legal sued the CDC to obtain the documents after the group filed a FOIA request for documents related to communications with big tech firms. The documents reportedly show that social media giants like Facebook and Twitter were frequently issued directives by the CDC on what to flag as “misinformation” and how to moderate pandemic-related content.
According to the report, evidence shows that Big Tech removed, suppressed, or slapped warning labels on thousands of pieces of content that did not align with CDC guidance.
The massive and open campaign to censor pandemic-related content that did not meet the Biden administration’s approved-language requirements was at one point so widespread that it became something of a joke. It has since taken on greater and more sobering significance with the emergence of evidence that supports the plaintiffs’ medical opinions—information that could well have saved lives and prevented the unprecedented socio-economic hardships created by lockdowns and mandates, including the toll it took on American children who bore the brunt of forced isolation.
A study by Johns Hopkins University released in January showed that COVID-19 lockdowns in the spring of 2020 had “little to no effect” on mortality rates and, instead, “imposed enormous economic and social costs,” including “reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy.”
Later the same month, the CDC released a study concluding that natural immunity provides sufficient, if not superior, protection against reinfection, severe illness, and hospitalizations, versus vaccine-induced immunity.
Of course, as I mentioned in my last post, the CDC has now finally recognized natural immunity in its own guidance. We were censored for pointing to the science that the CDC is now following, however belatedly. From the NTD News report on our lawsuit:
The federal government “fostered, encouraged, and empowered the creation” of social media firms with “disproportionate ability” to suppress and censor speech based on the speaker, content, and viewpoint, the lawsuit states (pdf).
Government censorship can take several forms like shadow bans, de-platforming, de-boosting, restricting access to content, demonetizing, requiring users to take down content, and imposing warning labels requiring click-through to access content, said NCLA.
Actions of the federal government “gravely threaten the fundamental right of free speech and free discourse for virtually all citizens in Missouri, Louisiana, and America, both on social media and elsewhere. And they have directly impacted individual Plaintiffs in this case, all of whom have been censored and/or shadowbanned as a result of Defendants’ actions,” the lawsuit states.
The article goes on to describe the CDC’s alleged collusion with social media:
Last month, nonprofit America First Legal (AFL) released documents revealing “concrete evidence of collusion” between the CDC and social media companies to “censor free speech and promote Biden Administration propaganda,” a July 27 press release said.
Documents revealed that the CDC sent a chart of posts to Twitter that it had deemed “misinformation.” The CDC conducted regular BOLO, or “Be On the LookOut,” meetings where the agency shared what they believed was “misinformation” with social media firms. The CDC recommended that information about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) be added to posts, such as that it “accepts reports from anyone.”
Officials also sent Facebook links that the agency had flagged as disinformation. Facebook granted the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services $15 million in ad credits as a “non-monetary gift” to promote vaccine, travel, social distance, and other messages related to COVID-19, something which might be in violation of the Antideficiency Act’s limitation on voluntary services.
Following the Wyoming Department of Health’s posts being blocked as vaccine misinformation on Facebook, the CDC asked the company to ensure that “verifiable information sources” remain unblocked. A COVID-19 Misinformation Reporting Channel for CDC and Census was established to report to Facebook.
With Google, the CDC requested that the agency’s vaccine page be promoted in search results. Google’s News Lab asked the agency to keep the company updated on “infodemiology”—or scanning the internet for content about heath—and that employees’ focus at the time was “primarily on election but the two are inevitably related.”
In the press release, Stephen Miller, president of America First Legal, blamed Big Tech for “unlawfully” colluding with the federal government to “silence, censor, and suppress” the free speech rights of Americans as well as violate their First Amendment rights.
“Government is expressly prohibited from censoring competing or dissenting viewpoints or from silencing its political opponents, whether it does so directly or whether it uses an outside corporation to achieve its draconian, totalitarian ends,” he said.
Private companies can censor content. But the federal government cannot—this clearly violates the First Amendment—nor can they deploy private companies as their long arm to engage in this censorship. The constitutional case against them could not be more clear.
Stay tuned for updates on this case.