A federal judge on Tuesday issued a broad ruling that bans the Biden administration from colluding with social media companies to censor online information, saying the collusion likely violated the First Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty "barred White House officials and multiple federal agencies" from working with social media companies to suppress "political views and other speech," the Wall Street Journal reported.
That speech includes "disfavored views about COVID-19 health policies, the origins of the pandemic, the Hunter Biden laptop story, election security, and other divisive topics," according to the lawsuit, brought by doctors and Republican state attorneys general. The doctors, epidemiologists who authored a declaration opposing the government's lockdown policies, allege that former White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci "helped lead a campaign to discredit the declaration and suppress it on social media."
Reporting has confirmed the originally censored Hunter Biden laptop story, which at least one whistleblower says the FBI authenticated in November 2019, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Multiple federal agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Energy, now support the theory that a Chinese lab leak sparked the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci went to extraordinary lengths to dismiss the lab-leak theory, even commissioning a paper opposing the theory and then pretending he was unfamiliar with the paper's authors, the Free Beacon reported.
Doughty's ruling is a huge victory for the plaintiffs, who argued that the administration created a "federal censorship enterprise" to police what it considers to be disinformation. During the pandemic, the CDC "coordinated with social media companies and Google to censor users" with concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, the Free Beacon reported.
Both the lawsuit and Doughty's ruling cited email exchanges between White House officials and social media executives. In one email, President Joe Biden's then-director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty, criticized YouTube for the "vaccine hesitancy" on its platform.
"This is a concern that is shared at the highest (and I mean highest) levels" of the White House, Flaherty wrote to the company.
COVID-19 is not the only issue on which the Biden administration colluded with Big Tech. Biden's Department of Homeland Security last year solicited Twitter to "become involved" with its "Disinformation Governance Board," which the administration shuttered following controversy over board director Nina Jankowicz's views on free speech.
"The evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario," Doughty wrote, in which "the United States government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth.'"