‘We should all be frightened’: landmark Missouri lawsuit over Biden’s ‘Orwellian’ censorship has judge’s full attention

A judge’s first crucial ruling is expected any time. But Missouri’s lawsuit fighting back against the Biden administration’s hectoring of Big Tech to censor conservative speech already has…

A judge’s first crucial ruling is expected any time. But Missouri’s lawsuit fighting back against the Biden administration’s hectoring of Big Tech to censor conservative speech already has “landmark case” written all over it.

“This is the most important First Amendment suit in a generation,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey tells The Lion, perhaps understating the case. “The question before us is whether or not the federal government can silence conservative voices on Big Tech social media platforms.”

So, it gets your undivided attention when the judge in such a momentous case raises the specter of George Orwell’s novel 1984 and its stark warning to posterity about the toxic marriage between an authoritarian government and technology.

It’s been well-established that the Biden administration leaned on social media companies to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The New York Post even had its Twitter account suspended for a time, after its reporting into the laptop’s contents and its evidence of the Bidens’ shadowy business dealings in Ukraine and China.

At a May 26 hearing, at which Missouri and co-plaintiff Louisiana asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent further Biden censorship, Louisiana federal Judge Terry A. Doughty “asked the feds if they had ever read George Orwell’s 1984, pointing out the similarities between the case and the book,” Bailey tweeted afterward.

And in an astonishing exchange between the judge and federal attorneys, Bailey says the Biden administration wouldn’t even concede Americans’ unfettered right to criticize the president or question the legitimacy of the 2020 election or COVID measures.

“For instance,” Bailey tells The Lion, “the court asked the Department of Justice if they would be allowed to censor Americans who question the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine. DOJ responded, ‘Well, it depends.’ The court then asked, ‘Well, would it be a violation of the First Amendment for you to censor speech as it relates to whether masks work?’ ‘Well, it depends,’ was the response. 

“The court then moved beyond the COVID issue and started asking if it would be a violation of the First Amendment for the federal government to censor individuals who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election. And the Department of Justice said, ‘Well, it depends.’ 

“So, they’re unwilling to commit to protecting the First Amendment right of Americans to have fair, free, and open debate about these political issues.”

The startling exchange was telling and profound, and goes to the heart of the lawsuit and the need to have the courts prohibit the Biden administration from further censorship, Bailey says.

“I think it demonstrates a complete lack of repentance. You know, repentance means that you are sorry for what you did previously and are going to change course and stop doing it in the future. And not only are they not apologetic about having censored speech as it relates to COVID, but they don’t see it as wrong, and they don’t have any compunction about doing it in the future. 

“I mean, look, you’ve got the president of the United States, through his attorneys, saying he doesn’t care about The First Amendment and is not going to fight to protect the First Amendment, and is actually unwilling to commit himself to preventing further infringements upon the First Amendment. That’s a serious offense.

“To have a president who’s so blatantly willing to violate that amendment, and then goes to court as recently as last month and continues to show contempt and disregard for the freedoms enjoyed by Americans under the First Amendment – we should all be frightened, because they silence conservative voices today; which voices are they going to silence tomorrow?”

The plaintiffs’ petition in the case seems devastating to the Biden administration from a legal standpoint. It cites case after case after case in which the courts appear to say what the administration is doing is patently unconstitutional.

Some excerpts from those cases:

  • Even “labeling disfavored speech ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’ does not strip it of First Amendment protection,” the petition argues, citing one case that notes the “common understanding that some false statements are inevitable if there is to be an open and vigorous expression of views in public and private conversation, expression (that) the First Amendment seeks to guarantee.”
  • Allowing the government to censor false statements, as one case puts it, “would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable. That governmental power has no clear limiting principle. Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need (1984’s) Oceania’s Ministry of Truth.”
  • “Freedom of speech and thought flows not from the beneficence of the state but from the inalienable rights of the person. And suppression of speech by the government can make exposure of falsity more difficult, not less so. Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse. These ends are not well served when the government seeks to orchestrate public discussion through content-based mandates.”
  • Another case concludes even a private entity violates the First Amendment “if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint.”
  • Yet another case says social media platforms constitute “perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.”

Twitter, the lawsuit notes, has 70 million U.S. users, while 66% of U.S. adults use Facebook and 72% use YouTube. Thus, not only is the lawsuit a landmark one in the frontier of free speech, but it will impact more Americans than just about any case bubbling up in the courts.

“The United States Supreme Court has identified that free, fair and open debate in a public forum is integral to a democratic republic, to the very fabric of our society,” Bailey says. “Certainly the Founding Fathers viewed that the right to free speech is endowed by God, not man. And they codified it in the Constitution in the very First Amendment for a reason, because it is so important.”

What if some on the left view this as merely the complaints of a bunch of cranky conservative crackpots online?

“Well, first of all,” Bailey responds, “I would say it doesn’t matter. The First Amendment protects all speech. The remedy in this country for disfavored speech has always been counter-speech, not government censorship. But I would also point out that there were instances where the White House, in emails to Big Tech social media companies, said they didn’t care what was true or not – they wanted a specific narrative, and were willing to push Big Tech social media beyond its own censorship policies to go further in order to stifle and silence Americans’ voices.”

Bailey says those emails are an exhibit in the case.

Even at this early stage, Missouri and Louisiana certainly seem to have the judge’s rapt attention.

“Well, I think the judge has already identified that there’s a vast censorship enterprise emanating from the executive branch of the federal government,” Bailey says. “His questions indicate to me that he’s cognizant of the fact that, absent a court order, the Biden administration is completely unrepentant and appears willing to continue censoring American voices that they disagree with.

“If anyone has read George Orwell’s 1984, they remember how Big Brother censored disfavored speech in that work of fiction. And yet, we’re living it out in today’s American society, under President Biden’s regime.”