President Joe Biden has played his cards: all bluff, no aces.
Biden is the defendant in a lawsuit accused of what Federal District Court Judge Terry Doughty calls “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” Yet the appeal Biden filed on Monday is devoid of even one winning argument in his own defense. Count on it to go nowhere. Biden’s been caught red-handed violating the U.S. Constitution.
On July 4, Judge Doughty announced that the evidence produced so far indicates the president is operating a vast, illegal censorship scheme to muzzle his critics.
Doughty knows tyranny when he sees it. He’s got the goods on the Biden administration, and he laid out his evidence in 155 pages, all meticulously footnoted.
Biden, numerous White House staff and employees of 11 federal agencies are being sued for operating a whole-of-government censorship operation to prevent you — the public — from seeing social media posts that challenge Biden policies on a wide range of issues from vaccines to climate change, inflation and more. Not to mention any posts that mock Biden family members. Straight out of Kim Jong Un’s playbook.
Doughty cited ample evidence — emails, meeting notes, sworn testimony and correspondence — showing the Biden administration strong-arms media platforms into serving as government censors. The Constitution bars the government from censoring, so Biden is coercing social media to do the dirty work for him. That, reasons Doughty, is just as unconstitutional.
To halt this assault on freedom as an election nears, Doughty issued an order on July 4 barring Biden himself and dozens of White House staff and federal agency employees from any further communications with executives at Facebook/Meta, Twitter, YouTube/Google, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms “for the purpose of encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content.”
It’s damage control for the nation.
Biden’s lawyers appealed Doughty’s order, predicting “grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes” if the order goes into effect, but no specifics.
Grave harm? Only to Biden’s reelection dreams. In a free society, all politicians have to put up with criticism.
The White House denies coercing social media executives, insisting they make “independent choices.”
That’s risible. Doughty documents the demands made to social media and the coercive language that White House staff and other federal employees used. Biden officials met with tech executives regularly and flagged content they wanted removed.
Doughty cites numerous times administration spokespeople warned that the Biden administration would consider altering Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media platforms from being held liable for what they post or refuse to post. That threat is tantamount to holding a gun to their heads.
The purpose of the First Amendment, explained Doughty, is to “preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas.”
Tragically, liberal media are no longer champions of a marketplace of ideas. The New York Times blasts Doughty and warns the lawsuit could “alter how government battles disinformation, dangerous falsehoods and harmful content online.”
Tell the gray lady that’s not government’s job.
The Washington Post cautions that “after companies and the federal government spent years expanding efforts to combat online falsehoods,” this lawsuit might end that cooperation.
Collusion is more like it. Government shouldn’t be curating what Americans can say or hear. The First Amendment protects all speech, good and bad, true and false.
Left-wing media are characterizing Doughty as a “Trump-appointed judge” to discredit him. Truth is, Doughty was confirmed by the Senate 98-0 and has become a formidable defender of the Constitution’s limits on government. He halted Biden’s mandate that all health care workers be vaccinated, and a similar mandate requiring Head Start workers be vaccinated, not because he opposed vaccines but because both mandates exceeded the federal government’s authority.
Doughty has a strong case again.
He warns that the U.S. government “seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.'”
That’s a grave danger, but it won’t happen on this judge’s watch.
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation,” Doughty writes, quoting an 80-year-old precedent, “it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”
Listen up, Mr. President.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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