Great Barrington Declaration legend Professor Jay Bhattacharya has written a great piece in the Free Press about the recent federal court ruling that found the Biden administration violated free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution by making threatening demands of social media companies that they censor him and other dissenting scientists over pandemic policies. Here’s an excerpt.
My parents had taught me that people here could criticise the Government, even over matters of life and death, without worry that the Government would censor or suppress us. But over the past three years, I have been robbed of that conviction. American Government officials, working in concert with Big Tech companies, have attacked and suppressed my speech and that of my colleagues for criticising official pandemic policies — criticism that has been proven prescient.
On Friday, at long last, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that we were not imagining it — that the Biden administration did indeed strong-arm social media companies into doing its bidding. The court found that the Biden White House, the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office and the FBI “engaged in a years-long pressure campaign [on social media outlets] designed to ensure that the censorship aligned with the Government’s preferred viewpoints”.
The judges described a pattern of Government officials making “threats of ‘fundamental reforms’ like regulatory changes and increased enforcement actions” if we did not comply. The implication was clear. To paraphrase Al Capone: Nice company you have there. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.
It worked. According to the judges, “the officials’ campaign succeeded. The platforms, in capitulation to state-sponsored pressure, changed their moderation policies.”
In exposing this behaviour — and in declaring it a likely violation of the First Amendment — the ruling is not just a victory for my fellow scientists and me, but for every single American.
The decision isn’t perfect, adds Dr. Bhattacharya.
Some entities at the heart of the Government’s censorship enterprise can still organise to suppress speech. For instance, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security can still work with academics to develop a hit list for Government censorship. And the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Fauci’s old organisation, can still coordinate devastating takedowns of outside scientists critical of government policy.
But the headline is a good one: the federal Government can no longer threaten social media companies with destruction if they don’t censor on behalf of the Government.
The Biden administration, which has proven itself to be an enemy of free speech, will surely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. But I am hopeful that we will win there, just as we have at every venue in this litigation. I am grateful for the resilience of the U.S. Constitution, which has withstood this challenge.
Worth reading in full.