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In Missouri v. Biden, Judge Checks Government Power Because Corrupt Corporate Media Won’t

In Missouri v. Biden, Judge Checks Government Power Because Corporate Media Won’t

The corrupt media refusing to condemn the Biden administration’s censorship efforts has only emboldened the government.

By: Margot Cleveland

July 7, 2023: The Censorship-Industrial Complex sees Americans and Americans’ speech as squarely within its purview when it comes to fighting supposed mis- or disinformation, Tuesday’s opinion in Missouri v. Biden revealed. And that should terrify everyone. That it doesn’t is a scandal nearly as mammoth as the gross violations of the First Amendment detailed in the court’s 150-plus-page opinion.

Americans dedicated to our constitutional republic celebrated Independence Day with some icing on the cake when news broke that a federal court had enjoined large swaths of the Biden administration from coordinating with social media companies to censor speech. Presiding Judge Terry Doughty’s lengthy opinion proved a veritable treasure trove of details of the behind-the-scenes efforts by our government to silence dissenting voices. And his extensive exposition of First Amendment law and his accompanying analysis of the preliminary facts uncovered through limited discovery provided a solid basis for his ruling that the plaintiffs would likely prevail on their free speech claims that were premised on “the White House and numerous federal agencies, pressure[ing] and encourag[ing] social-media companies to suppress free speech.”

Anyone who bothered to wade through the entirety of the opinion should be left shocked and outraged by what our federal overseers did: They targeted Americans and their speech and demanded censorship based on the content and viewpoints expressed — ones that contradicted the official government position.

Sure, the speech censored was overwhelmingly conservative — a fact the court highlighted — but that should not matter. After all, as Judge Doughty stressed, “the right to free speech is not a member of any political party and does not hold any political ideology. It is the purpose of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail…”

Apparently, it did matter, however, for the outrage from the left centered not on the government’s conduct, but on the judge’s injunction. And left-wing sentiments seemed unaffected by our government seeking censorship of supposed “medical misinformation.”

As The Washington Post’s editorial board reasoned, if communicating threats to “the public safety or security of the United States” to social media is permissible, why not also “other threats?” Why not warn social media companies about “medical misinformation during a public health emergency?”

The answer is simple, and Judge Doughty put it simply: The Government “does not have the right to determine the truth.”

Yet that is precisely the role our government took on during the Covid-19 pandemic, assuming “a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Doughty said.

One would think the supposed standard-bearers of journalism, especially one publishing under the “Democracy Dies in the Darkness” banner, would get that. But no, the corporate press’s position seems indistinguishable from the government’s, which Doughty also synthesized simply.

“While not admitting any fault in the suppression of free speech,” the federal judge wrote in his Independence Day opinion, “Defendants blame the Russians, COVID-19, and capitalism for any suppression of free speech by social-media companies.” From the government’s perspective, the court explained, it was merely “promot[ing] necessary and responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by a deadly pandemic and hostile foreign assaults on critical election infrastructure.”

But there will always be excuses to censor speech. “If human nature and history teaches anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency,” Doughty wrote, quoting Justice Neil Gorsuch. The true “grave risk,” though, is what the plaintiffs showed the government had done in pressuring Big Tech companies to censor their speech — what Doughty called “arguably the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.”

He is correct, but what our government did is only half of the scandal. Corporate media excusing the government’s censorship is just as outrageous because, without the check on government provided by a free and open press, those silenced will be left with an insufficient remedy — a belated declaration that the government has violated its citizens’ constitutional rights and an injunction barring a repeat of the censorship.

The corrupt media refusing to condemn the Biden administration’s censorship efforts has only emboldened the government, as seen by its immediate filing of its notice of appeal. On Thursday, the Biden administration also requested a stay of the injunction, to allow it to continue its efforts to have Americans’ speech censored.

Sadly, it seems as if only conservative care. And that reality merits its own outrage.

Source: The Federalist

Margot Cleveland is The Federalist's senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time.

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