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Judge Dismisses Biden Admin’s Motion to Dismiss Big Tech Collusion Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


A federal judge wants to get to the bottom of what kind of interactions the federal government has had with big tech companies and has ordered that it show its communications.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty has dismissed the Biden administration’s motion to dismiss a landmark case alleging collusion between the federal government and Big Tech to censor certain users related to COVID-19.

In Missouri v. Biden, the states of Louisiana and Missouri filed a lawsuit alleging that social media companies — such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — censored certain viewpoints and users on its platforms at the direction of members of President Joe Biden’s administration as well as leaders at federal government agencies.

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“The Court finds that the Complaint alleges significant encouragement and coercion that converts the otherwise private conduct of censorship on social media platforms into state action, and is unpersuaded by Defendants’ arguments to the contrary,” Doughty wrote in his ruling.

Doughty said he was “unpersuaded” by some of the government’s arguments in court, particularly their attempts to downplay coercive threats as “isolated episodes in which federal officials engaged in rhetoric about misinformation on social media platforms.”

“Further, while the Government may certainly select the messages it wishes to convey, this freedom is limited by the more fundamental principle that a government entity may not employ threats to limit the free speech of private citizens,” Doughty wrote.

“In the lawsuit, the states argue that the government’s alleged encouragement of Big Tech companies to engage in censorship exceeds its legal authority, violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and infringes First Amendment rights. The government filed a motion to dismiss the case claiming a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” The Epoch Times reported.

However, Judge Doughty disagreed and found that the states had “plausibly alleged state action under the theories of joint participation, entwinement, and the combining of factors such as subsidization, authorization, and encouragement.”

“Plaintiffs have clearly and plausibly alleged that Defendants engaged in viewpoint discrimination and prior restraints,” the judge wrote.

“If private speech could be passed off as government speech by simply affixing a government seal of approval, the government could silence or muffle the expression of disfavored viewpoints,” the ruling stated.

“The Complaint alleges more than the exercise of permissible government speech. It alleges extensive and highly effective efforts by government officials to ‘silence or muffle the expression of disfavored viewpoints,’” the judge wrote. “Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged state action under the theory of significant encouragement and/or coercion.”

The case is scheduled for a preliminary injunction hearing on May 12.

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The lawsuit alleges that social media companies labeled information as “misinformation” and “disinformation” in violation of the First Amendment and that the federal government went beyond its authority and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

“After the AGs filed a motion for expedited preliminary injunction-related discovery, the Biden administration filed an opposition. The Biden administration argued Louisiana and Missouri don’t have the authority to bring a parens patria suit – an action to protect citizens unable to protect themselves – against the federal government,” the report said.

“The administration argued the states can’t meet an ‘injury in fact’ standard, defined as ‘it suffered ‘an invasion of a legally protected interest’ that is ‘concrete,’ ‘particularized,’ and ‘actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.’” The administration contended there wasn’t a link between alleged injuries to the states and the government’s alleged actions and argued the states can’t demonstrate how the court will provide justice for an alleged ‘injury in fact,’” it said.





ConservativeBrief.com

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