In 2022, the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri filed a major lawsuit against the Biden administration that alleged government coercion, manipulation, and pressure imposed on tech companies and social media platforms to engage in censorship that it is barred from doing itself by virtue of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.
That lawsuit has now been joined in support via an amicus brief filed in federal court by the Alliance Defending Freedom organization and exposed numerous examples of censorship that were directed or encouraged by government agencies and officials.
It also made reference to substantial federal funding received by a British nonprofit organization, the Global Disinformation Index, that effectively blocks and censors numerous conservative and right-leaning media outlets and websites with a "blacklist."
In its 36-page brief filed last week, the ADF outlined various examples of government agencies and officials either directly or tacitly allowing or engaging in censorship of viewpoints they disagree with, be they overtly political or religious or merely unapproved and disfavored narratives about current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, often through colleges and universities or online social media platforms.
Given that it is clearly prohibited by the Constitution for the government to engage in any sort of censorship, the brief argues that it is likewise unlawful and unconstitutional for the government to effectuate the censorship it desires by way of private third parties.
Of particular note in the brief is the reference to the Global Disinformation Index, which according to a Washington Examiner report in February has received by way of grants from State Department-linked entities more than $330,000 in taxpayer money to fund its operations within the past year or two.
GDI admittedly has created a "dynamic exclusion list" that is then broadly distributed among corporate entities to warn them about some of the "riskiest" sites for alleged "disinformation, which, not coincidentally, are almost exclusively of a conservative or right-leaning viewpoint.
Some examples of blacklisted sites include, per the Examiner, "American Spectator, Newsmax, the Federalist, the American Conservative, One America News, the Blaze, the Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post."
Relatedly, around the same time that the brief was filed, the Examiner reported separately that tech software firm Oracle announced that it had cut ties with GDI based on what it now knew after joining that organization in a "collaboration" in 2021.
"After conducting a review, we agree with others in the advertising industry that the services we provide marketers must be in full support of free speech, which is why we are ending our relationship with GDI," Oracle's vice president of communications, Michael Egbert, said in a statement to the Examiner.
"Government should be freedom’s strongest defender, not its greatest threat," ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham said in a statement about the filed brief in support of the lawsuit led by Louisiana and Missouri's attorneys general. "Americans don’t look to the White House or Silicon Valley to discover and express the truth. That’s not the role of government, and it certainly isn’t the role of big tech."
"When government actors like the Biden administration encourage and enable unelected big tech executives to do their dirty work for them, they do an end-run around the Constitution. That needs to stop, and that’s why we hope Missouri prevails in its lawsuit," he added.
Likewise, ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross said, "Free speech is not a privilege of those favored by the government -- it’s something every American should be able to enjoy, regardless of their background or creed."
"No one should have to fear being de-platformed just because someone at Google disagrees with what they have to say or what they believe. And it’s illegal when the government does it," he added. "It’s time for the Biden administration to take responsibility for its role in threatening the freedom of those it has sworn to serve under the Constitution."