JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced today that the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted his motion to block top officials in the federal government from continuing to violate the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. The judge’s ruling is 155 pages long and includes 721 footnotes.
The judge had harsh words for the federal officials. He noted that this is “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,” that the Biden administration has “blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” and that the Biden administration “almost exclusively targeted conservative speech.”
Attorney General Bailey’s motion for preliminary injunction, which he filed with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, highlighted over 1,400 facts from more than 20,000 pages of evidence exposing the vast censorship enterprise coordinated across multiples agencies within the federal government. The Court’s order comes a mere two weeks after Attorney General Bailey testified before Congress on the dangers this enterprise poses to Americans’ right to free speech.
“We filed this landmark lawsuit against dozens of officials in the federal government to stop the biggest violation of the First Amendment in our nation’s history, and today’s court order is a huge win for the right to freely speak without government censorship,” said Attorney General Bailey. “We must build a wall of separation between tech and state to preserve our First Amendment right to free, fair, and open debate. Missouri will continue to lead the way in the fight to defend our most fundamental freedoms.”
In the order, the Court recognized the States’ evidence of unconscionable federal censorship activities. The judge specifically found:
- “[V]irtually all of the free speech suppressed was conservative free speech.”
- At least 22 times, the White House engaged in “unrelenting pressure” against tech companies. “White House Defendants engaged in coercion to induce social-media companies to suppress free speech.” “The White House Defendants made it very clear to social-media companies what they wanted suppressed and what they wanted amplified. Faced with unrelenting pressure from the most powerful office in the world, the social-media companies apparently complied.”
- “[T]he Hunter Biden laptop story was real, and not mere Russian disinformation,” and the “FBI’s failure to alert social-media companies” to this fact “is particularly troubling” after the FBI had falsely suggested to social-media companies that the Hunter Biden laptop story was fake. “After the Hunter Biden laptop story broke on October 14, 2020, [FBI agent Laura] Dehmlow refused to comment on the status of the Hunter Biden laptop in response to a direct inquiry from Facebook, although the FBI had the laptop in its possession since December 2019.”
- Facebook suppressed information at the demand of the White House, the FBI, and other federal agents even though the information “did not violate Facebook’s policies” and thus ordinarily would not have been suppressed. “Facebook noted that in response to White House demands, it was censoring, removing, and reducing the virality of content discouraging vaccines ‘that does not contain actionable misinformation.’”
- Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a “threat of ‘legal consequences’” to social media companies “if they do not censor misinformation more aggressively.”
- After President Biden accused social media companies of “killing people,” Facebook emailed the Surgeon General to say “it’s not great to be accused of killing people” and to say Facebook was “keen to find a way to deescalate.” Social media platforms then met with the Surgeon General. “After the meetings with social-media platforms, the platforms seemingly fell in line with the Office of Surgeon General’s and White House’s requests.”
- The “motivation” of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other defendants was specifically “a ‘take down’ of protected free speech.”
- The Department of Homeland Security “met with social-media companies to both inform and pressure them to censor content protected by the First Amendment.” It then “expanded the word ‘infrastructure’ in its terminology to include ‘cognitive’ infrastructure, so as to create authority to monitor and suppress protected free speech posted on social media.”
- DHS “Defendants believe they had a mandate to control the process of acquiring knowledge.”
- DHS helped create a pseudo-private organization “to get around unclear legal authorities, including very real First Amendment questions.”
- Federal defendants did not just censor speech directly; they also caused social media companies to change their policies. They “used meetings, emails, phone calls, follow-up meetings, and the power of the government to pressure social-media platforms to change their policies and to suppress free speech.”
- Although much of the past suppression involved COVID and elections, federal officials “have also shown a willingness to do it with regard to other issues, such as gas prices, parody speech, calling the President a liar, climate change, gender, and abortion” as well as political criticism about “the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the return of U.S. Support of Ukraine.”
The judge ordered the Biden administration to stop this “almost dystopian scenario” of “us[ing] its power to silence the opposition.”
Missouri v. Biden was filed by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana on May 5, 2022. The Court granted their motion for discovery on July 12, 2022, clearing the way for Missouri and Louisiana to gather documents and depose witnesses from the Biden Administration.
Missouri and Louisiana deposed top-ranking officials in the federal government under oath, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan, Eric Waldo of the Surgeon General’s Office, Carol Crawford of the CDC, Brian Scully of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Daniel Kimmage of the State Department.
General Bailey and General Landry filed their motion for preliminary injunction on March 6, 2023, citing more than 1,400 facts showing that top officials in the federal government coerced and colluded with big tech social media companies to violate Americans’ right to free speech.