Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) is leading a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration that seeks to fully expose the White House-backed efforts to coerce or collude with social media platforms to undermine the First Amendment to censor and suppress speech that the administration finds disfavorable to its preferred narratives.
Now, following an appeals court setback for plans to obtain testimony from former White House press secretary Jen Pskai, Bailey is insistent that “all options are on the table” to uncover the unconstitutional censorship perpetrated by the Biden administration, the Daily Caller reported.
The lawsuit, which is a joint effort with the Republican attorney general of Louisiana, was first launched in May 2022 by former Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, who is now a U.S. senator, but Bailey has made it clear that the legal challenge begun under his predecessor will continue to be a top priority under his leadership.
Psaki deposition denied … for now
As part of the discovery process for that lawsuit, under oath depositions were requested of several current and former Biden administration officials, including former press secretary Psaki, that was granted by a district court but appealed by the administration and, in some cases, have been blocked or delayed.
The Hill reported earlier in January that a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned the lower court’s authorization for a deposition of Psaki and instead ordered the plaintiffs in the suit to seek alternative means to find the information they had hoped to obtain from her.
The judges reasoned that Psaki, as a mere spokesperson, did not work “to develop or execute policy,” and as such, “the record does not demonstrate that Psaki has unique first-hand knowledge that would justify the extraordinary measure of deposing a high-ranking executive official.”
“Using every tool at our disposal”
The Hill had noted that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) had accepted that ruling from the appeals court, but Missouri AG Bailey, in an interview with the Daily Caller, said that “all options are on the table” when asked if he planned to pursue a further appeal of the panel’s decision about Psaki.
Bailey told the outlet, “We are using every tool at our disposal to ensure that we have rooted out this enterprise of government censorship … and we will take as long as it takes to do it, and we will take any deposition that’s needed.”
“It’s not just collusion between federal bureaucrats and big tech social media cronies, it’s coercion,” the attorney general said more broadly. “The Biden administration bullied and coerced big tech social media into censoring their disfavored speech.”
“They did this by threatening sanction against big tech social media in the form of antitrust suits and in the form of a repeal of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is the gravy train for these big tech social media companies,” he explained.
Bailey added that the speech policies of the major social media platforms were already “pernicious enough … but then when you got the federal government pushing big tech social media beyond those policies, you get some really dangerous censorship.”
Exposing and halting censorship a top priority
In a separate recent interview with The Center Square, Missouri AG Bailey said the censorship lawsuit was a top priority for his office and stated, “We have documentary evidence, we have testimonial evidence, and we intend to seek more evidence in the coming weeks.”
“We’re on an expedited discovery timeline,” he explained. “At some point, we’re going to get into a procedural posture where we’re going to ask for an injunction to prevent further coercion and collusion from the federal government and prevent Biden and his team from censoring speech.”
“What we’ve demonstrated and what we believe is going on is censorship because it’s unelected federal bureaucrats targeting specific speech that they disfavor and asking that it be removed from big-tech social media platforms,” Bailey added. “That’s the problem. It stifles free, fair, and open debate and it undermines our First Amendment. There should be a marketplace of ideas that is free from government censorship.”