Constitutional freedoms and our efforts to form a “more perfect union” tenuously hold our nation together. When Benjamin Franklin stated that our Constitution created, “a republic, if you can keep it,” he was right.
But our recent federal court win with an historic injunction in Louisiana and Missouri vs. Biden et al. brings this quote into a new light, as unlawful government promoted censorship, the canceling and silencing of our own citizens, and is ultimately destined to doom the very nation we love.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented two options: we could fight to maintain our constitutional republic and democracy or succumb to the tyranny of a totalitarian state. We could fight for frequent and open debate, or we could submit to a bureaucratic state unable to tolerate freedom of thought or speech. The battleground between these two worlds is the First Amendment.
Our Founders believed in the sovereignty of the individual and placed significant protection around our inalienable rights and liberties. The point was never to place a muzzle on the government, but to prevent the government from putting a muzzle on you. That is why Americans have the right, if not duty, to respond to speech they do not like, while the government has no right, and certainly no duty, to limit, suppress, censor, or otherwise control that speech.
Yet that is precisely why federal officials induced, threatened, and colluded with social media companies: the government could not censor speech, but hoped they could do it through a third party. My office knew that was a violation of the Constitution, as was making private entities agents of the state for the purpose of censoring Americans. That was the basis of our lawsuit.
Now Judge Terry Doughty has ruled in our favor, granting an historic preliminary injunction against the Biden administration that prevents them from censoring the protected speech of Americans across all social media platforms. Similar to ESG and other social credit scores, the Biden administration attempted to drive behavioral changes leading to self-censorship by silencing dissent and giving preferential treatment to government narratives. On July 4, Judge Doughty ruled that such preferential treatment is unconstitutional.
Of course, those in favor of totalitarian rule and the censorship of Americans—even those who simply tried to read or share accurate reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop—are crying foul, claiming that this ruling limits government speech. The truth is that federal officials have grossly overstepped their boundaries, and now they are being put back into their rightful place. At the same time, their efforts at social engineering have been brought to a screeching halt.
That’s not to say that this censorship enterprise is officially dead. In fact, this tumor growing within our nation’s fabric is so vast and entrenched, spanning across almost every government institution, working to control, manipulate, and deceive millions of social media users, that this victory must be one of many. We have won a battle, but not yet the war.
So each and every American must take this opportunity to ask themselves: can we keep our republic? Are we ready to flood social media with speech that is true, engage in open debate, and push back against federal officials who have knowingly tried to silence you? Are we ready to steer this nation back to truth and buck federal control of our “cognitive infrastructure?”
As Judge Doughty observed in his ruling, “the principal function of free speech under the United States’ system of government is to invite dispute; it may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.” But that is our battlefield, and also our best hope.
Why? “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one place to go,” warned Harry Truman. “And that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
That is why my office, and our counterparts in Missouri, look forward to litigating this very important case to conclusion on behalf of all Americans—because free speech is not subject to government approval.
Jeff Landry is the attorney general of Louisiana and a former U.S. representative.