It has become quite clear that President Joe Biden and his administration have little regard for the Constitution and the limits it imposed on the federal government, particularly when it comes to the First Amendment and its protection of the freedom of speech of the citizenry.
That was made evident by emails released via a lawsuit that revealed how dozens of Biden officials likely coerced and colluded in private with social media companies to censor and suppress disfavored speech on their respective platforms, the Daily Caller reported.
Those emails were made public by way of a lawsuit filed by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, Eric Schmitt and Jeff Landry, respectively, that has exposed what those two elected state officials described as a federal “Censorship Enterprise” in coordination with private companies.
Emails show collusion, and coordination in censorship
The released emails show numerous back-and-forth conversations between executives at social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube with several dozen different government officials at a dozen or more different federal agencies, including within the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, the Census Bureau, the State and Treasury Departments, and even the White House, among others.
Contained in those email chains is clear evidence of coordination and collusion between the entities in which discussions were held, sometimes on a weekly or monthly basis, about censoring or suppressing content that the government officials deemed to be “misinformation” or “extreme” or, more accurately, not aligned with preferred narratives.
🚨 According to newly released emails obtained by state AGs, Facebook & the Biden admin arranged weekly/monthly calls to discuss what to censor on the platform.https://t.co/m8UKZEBby9 pic.twitter.com/u2RRDwcwAU
— Vince Coglianese (@VinceCoglianese) September 1, 2022
A “whole of government approach” if there ever was one
Missouri AG Schmitt said in a news release, “Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit back in May that seeks to expose how top Biden Administration officials allegedly colluded with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on several topics, including COVID-19. We won in court in July, and the Court required the Biden Administration to turn over communications between federal officials and social media companies.”
“We have already received several documents that clearly prove that the federal government has an incestuous relationship with social media companies and clearly coordinate to censor freedom of speech, but we’re not done,” he added. “The Department of Justice is cowering behind executive privilege and has refused to turn over communications between the highest-ranking Biden Administration officials and social media companies. That’s why, yesterday, we asked the Court to compel the Department of Justice to produce those records. We’re just getting started — stay tuned.”
The pair of attorneys general said in a joint statement, “The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
“And it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials. Defendants have objected to producing some of the most relevant and probative information in their possession,” the duo added.
Government “jawboning” of private companies
This looks to be a clear-cut example of what is known as “jawboning,” as described in-depth last year by the Lawfare blog, in which the government enters a gray area between legally permissible “pressure” or “persuasion” of private companies versus illegal “coercion” to engage in activities the government is otherwise prohibited from engaging in — such as the censorship and suppression of free speech.
As that article detailed, prior case law on the issue is mixed and whether or not this current example will prove to be legal or illegal will depend quite a bit on who the judge overseeing the case is and which of the contradictory prior precedents are cited to either defend or rebuke the dubious actions of the Biden administration to silence dissenting opinions on social media.