Big Tech Censorship Case Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

Big Tech Censorship Case Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

Ronald Reagan famously said, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” When it comes to freedom of speech, that could not be more true.

One hundred and three pages of fact findings in district court, supported by five hundred and ninety-one footnotes, demonstrate a sprawling campaign of “unrelenting pressure from the most powerful office in the world” to “bend [social-media platforms] to the government’s will.” The Biden administration, however, claims that these platforms aggressively censored American voices because of Biden’s persuasive “eloquence,” rather than its threats and coercion.

While the White House insisted that social media platforms view themselves as “partners,” on the same “team,” and benefiting from the government’s “help,” those same officials were subjecting the platforms to relentless abuse, accusations, and blatant threats. Of course, this abusive relationship between Big Government and Big Tech didn’t begin this way. It was a slow burn starting as early 2017, when the FBI began coordinating secret meetings in Silicon Valley with content-moderation officers across seven platforms. Even then, the platforms were threatened with “legislation” if they did not censor more, with encrypted lists demanding mass-censorship flooding their inboxes.

This soon escalated to more aggressive practices. By 2018, CISA, or the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, was highlighting “disinformation” from state and local officials to be censored across platforms, and in 2020, the “Election Integrity Partnership” was launched — a colossal mass-surveillance and mass-censorship project that entangled government agencies, the Stanford Internet Observatory, and social media platforms into an Orwellian knot. In time, this would be rebranded as “The Virality Project,” with the capability to monitor tens of millions of social media “engagements” per week and spur extensive censorship.

By the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, this shadowy Ministry of Truth had completely embedded itself into the very fabric of our digital communications. As a result, it wasn’t difficult for President Biden to double down on such an insidious system, one conveniently engineered for “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.” Like water carving into rock, the unrelenting pressure from the “highest (and I mean highest) levels of the White House” proved too much for these tech companies to bear, with one hand offering them a carrot for compliance and the other threatening the complete annihilation of their business model. One by one, they folded to pressure from the Biden White House, responding with “total compliance,” even when it meant censoring truthful information that did not violate existing platform policies.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana granted an historic injunction in response to our 2022 lawsuit Louisiana and Missouri v. Biden on July 4, 2023. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed it — twice. Both courts have confirmed that the government’s coordinated campaign to censor domestic speech through private institutions violates the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Yet the Biden administration continues to unapologetically coerce platforms into censorship to this day, resulting in an oppressive editorial power that affects every American.

Biden’s attorneys have also made it clear that this administration has no intention of ceasing its unconstitutional conduct. Instead, they’ve expressed the firm intention to continue. That is why this case at the U.S. Supreme Court is so important to our nation. These censorship efforts were never vague or abstract but extremely specific, right down to individual speakers and posts flagged for “misinformation” or “disinformation” because they dared to criticize the government’s narrative. But the government does not have the power to secretly distort the marketplace of ideas or actively manipulate public discourse to suit its needs. Moreover, “a state may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish” (Norwood v. Harrison).

Our limited discovery has uncovered extensive suppression of speech that goes against the fundamental nature of American liberty. For our government, its institutions, or its officials to actively censor protected speech strikes at the core of who we are as citizens of a free nation with a government created by the people, for the people.

I invite you to listen to our oral argument on March 18, where evidence rather than Orwellian “eloquence” will be front and center.

Liz Murrill is the Attorney General of Louisiana. She previously served as the state’s Solicitor General and has been with this case from the beginning. The case is Murthy v. Missouri, No. 23-411 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

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[By: Liz Murrill

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