The Biden administration has been instructed to surrender messages sent by Dr. Anthony Fauci and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to social media platforms regarding alleged censorship collusion. The emails were ordered released to the court yesterday by Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe.
The decision comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri. AGs Jeff Landry (LA) and Eric Schmitt (MO) have accused “the Biden administration of suppressing the constitutionally protected right to free speech on elections, the COVID-19 lab leak theory, coronavirus-related lockdowns, and other issues,” as Fox Digital described it.
White House Claims Executive Privilege
Doughty rejected assertions of executive privilege and presidential communications privilege made by Department of Justice lawyers on behalf of Biden & Company. Judge Doughty’s discovery order reads, in part: “This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms.”
The complaint takes up the issue of coordinated censorship by social media platforms and the White House. The lawsuit alleges that 11 government agencies took part in the plan to control information provided to the American public. Thus, the more significant question regarding freedom of speech is at issue, according to the attorneys general:
“… having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation.’”
The legal action claims collaboration among the federal agencies and social media powers resulted in “an unprecedented rise of censorship and suppression of free speech – including core political speech – on social media platforms. Not just fringe views, but perfectly legitimate, responsible viewpoints and speakers have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally threatened in the modern public square.”
The Fauci Emails
Judge Doughty felt the plaintiffs’ discovery claim was reasonable regarding the Fauci emails. He wrote, “In responding to expedited discovery requests regarding Dr. Fauci, in his capacity as NIAID Director, Government Defendants shall provide responses to Plaintiffs’ expedited discovery requests …” Then, he addressed the White House directly by saying, “As far as the burden to the White House, it is no more a burden than the other discovery requests Government Defendants have already answered.”
In hailing the judge’s decision, AG Schmitt issued a public statement, saying, “The American people deserve answers on how the federal government has colluded with social media companies to censor free speech on these major platforms.”
According to Schmitt and Landry, evidence suggests that federal attempts to suppress information have occurred “on a scale beyond what Plaintiffs could ever have anticipated.” In a court document, they argue the lawsuit has unearthed “a tantalizing snapshot into a massive, sprawling federal ‘Censorship Enterprise,’ which includes dozens of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies and components identified so far, who communicate with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, and the suppression of private speech on social media—all with the intent and effect of pressuring social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech that federal officials disfavor.”
Attorneys for the Biden administration have 21 days to comply with the order.