'Cohesive and coercive campaign' of censorship: Judge greenlights Biden social media collusion suit

Court said suit by Louisiana, Missouri and censored doctors is much better pleaded than previous censorship lawsuits against social media companies.

Published: March 21, 2023 10:57am

Updated: March 21, 2023 12:19pm

The Biden administration failed to stop a lawsuit by Louisiana, Missouri and doctors alleging federal coercion of social media companies to censor purported misinformation on COVID-19, elections and the Hunter Biden laptop, with a federal judge greenlighting the suit to move forward.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty ruled that unlike previous failed censorship lawsuits against social media companies by their users, the First Amendment and Administrative Procedure Act suit by the states and doctors is much better pleaded.

"Plaintiffs have alleged the full picture: a cohesive and coercive campaign by the Biden Administration and all of the Agency Defendants," from the CDC and FDA to the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, "to threaten and persuade social media companies to more avidly censor so-called 'misinformation,'" Doughty wrote.

He also cited "alleged various statements from many individuals that contained concrete threats both toward the general viewpoints espoused by plaintiffs, as well as the specific content of the private plaintiffs themselves."

Doughty cited the alleged censorship of the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration and its coauthors, epidemiologists Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, "just after" then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins called for a "quick and devastating … takedown" of the document.

"Missouri will continue to lead the way in the fight to defend our most fundamental freedoms," Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on Twitter following the ruling. 

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, whose own Department of Justice was "directly censored on YouTube for posting video footage of Louisianans criticizing mask mandates and COVID-19 lockdown measures" soon after federal officials publicly demanded more content moderation, cheered the forward motion of the "Censorship Enterprise" litigation.

"Had free speech been permitted instead, perhaps many fewer Americans would have been harmed by destructive and epidemiologically useless policies like lockdowns, school closures, vaccine discrimination, toddler masking and much else," Bhattacharya said through his lawyers at the New Civil Liberties Alliance.

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