A federal court has granted a request by Missouri and Louisiana officials to obtain information and documents from senior Biden administration officials about his alleged collusion with social media giants to censor and suppress freedom of expression.
Eric Schmitt, Republican Attorney General of Missouri, announcement on social media on July 13 that Terry Doughty, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, had ruled in favor of the discovery proceeding request.
The ruling clears the way for attorneys general to collect documents from top Biden administration officials and social media giants.
In court documents (pdf) shared by Schmitt, Doughty wrote that there is “good cause” for expedited discovery of the preliminary injunction.
The judge, a Trump appointee, also gave a timeline by which federal officials and social media platforms must turn over documents.
Complaining states can serve requests for documents and information from government officials and third-party subpoenas on up to five major social media platforms seeking to identify federal officials who may have been in contact with them in the five working days following the decision.
Judgment was delivered on July 12.
Federal officials and social media platforms must also deliver documents and respond to questions from officials in both states within the next 30 days, the judge said.
“Disadvantaged Speakers Removed”
The decision comes after attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri filed a lawsuit in May alleging the Biden administration “colluded with and/or coerced social media companies to remove speakers, disadvantaged views and content on social media platforms by labeling the content as ‘misinformation’, ‘disinformation’ and ‘malinformation’.
Attorneys general named social media giants such as Meta, Twitter and YouTube in a press release announcing the trial in May.
They also claimed that President Joe Biden himself, along with other senior government officials, had worked with the platforms to censor and suppress free speech, including “truthful information” regarding the origins of COVID- 19, the effectiveness of masks, elections the integrity and safety of voting by mail, and the ongoing Hunter Biden laptop scandal.
Among the defendants named in the lawsuit are Biden, former press secretary Jen Psaki, the president’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former executive director Disinformation Governance Council Nina Jankowicz, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and others.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that officials “lobbied and colluded with social media giants Meta, Twitter and YouTube to censor free speech in the name of combating so-called ‘misinformation’ and “misinformation”, which has led to the suppression and censorship of truthful information on several topics, including COVID-19.
The complaint also alleges that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Council was created “to induce, label, and lobby the censorship of disadvantaged content, viewpoints, and speakers on social media platforms.” “.
The lawsuit argues that the alleged suppression of free speech and collusion violates First Amendment protections and amounts to action beyond legal authority.
He also argues that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
Missouri and Louisiana filed for expedited discovery related to a preliminary injunction on June 17, 2022.
In announcing the court’s decision to grant the attorneys general’s request, Schmitt said on Twitter, “Nobody’s had a chance to look under the hood before – now we do.”