A federal judge ordered the Biden administration to turn over papers relating to communications between the federal government and Big TGech platforms. Judge Terry Doughty of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted the order of discovery sought by Republican Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri, and Jeff Landry of Louisiana.
During the discovery phase of a case alleging collaboration to restrict free expression, President Joe Biden, officials of his administration, and specific social media companies must turn over records and answer questions within the next 30 days, the court ruled. Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general filed a lawsuit in May alleging that Biden and 8 high-ranking members of his administration conspired with and/or coerced social media companies Meta, Twitter, and YouTube to suppress “disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social medial platforms.”CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, found there is “good cause” for the discovery process and established a timetable, including specified deadlines for depositions.
“In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress freedom of speech on a number of topics including the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of masks, and election integrity,” Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Today, the Court granted our motion for discovery, paving the way for my office to gather important documents to get to the bottom of that alleged collusion. This is a huge development.”
The lawsuit claims that social media companies violated the First Amendment by labeling information as “misinformation” and “disinformation,” and that the federal government went beyond its authority, with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security violating the Administrative Procedure Act.
Republicans have already promised to focus on the Biden administration’s cozy ties with Big Tech when they win control of the U.S. House in January.
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote letters to CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet’s Google, Meta’s Facebook, and Microsoft, accusing them of acting as an arm of the Biden administration’s “woke speech police.”
“Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden Administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online,” Jordan noted in the letter. “This approach undermines fundamental American principles and allows powerful government actors to silence political opponents and stifle opposing viewpoints.”
As part of the committee’s investigation into “the Biden administration’s collusion with Big Tech to censor, silence, or reduce the reach of certain information and viewpoints,” Jordan demanded that the tech companies hand over documents and communications between their employees and “any individual affiliated with the Executive Branch” dating back to January 2020.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee also wrote to Twitter owner Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking for documents and communications from the platforms to help with an ongoing investigation “to uncover any unconstitutional actions by government officials or agents working on their behalf.”
They wrote, “Despite these clear constitutional limits on government action, reports continue to surface that government officials and agencies have conducted censorship campaigns involving social media platforms. Whether working through the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or other agencies, government officials should not tip the scale by urging social media platforms to disallow certain speech.”
“A bedrock principle of our democracy is free speech,” the House Oversight Committee members wrote. “The government, in concert with social media, should not tell Americans what they can and cannot say online.”
Republicans are also outraged about the latest “Twitter Files” that Twitter CEO Elon Musk released. They have promised to take action after it was revealed that the FBI was flagging content and sending it to Twitter executives to look at.
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