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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

AGs sue Biden Admin alum COVID Czar for colluding to suppress speech

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Two Republican attorneys general are suing former Biden Administration COVID Czar Andy Slavitt for conspiring to deprive Americans of their free speech rights by colluding with social media companies to suppress opinions he opposed. Slavitt was among the most vociferous COVID lockdown promoters both before and after he went to work for Biden.

It’s an interesting take–and perhaps one that could get around the normal defense of qualified immunity.

From the Daily Caller:

Two Republican state attorneys general sued former Biden administration COVID czar Andy Slavitt, among other administration officials, adding them to an ongoing lawsuit alleging collusion between Big Tech and the Biden administration to suppress COVID-related speech online.

The new additions come amid a third-party subpoena of Twitter, YouTube and Meta, which the complaint credits for identifying a variety of  White House and administration officials who were involved in the alleged censorship campaign. The states intend to file a motion requesting the deposition of “key defendants,” Republican Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana said in a statement Monday, announcing the amended complaint.

Slavitt and a senior Meta executive were in regular contact to discuss suppression of COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook, the lawsuit alleges. Slavitt also allegedly pressured Twitter to ban vaccine and lockdown critic Alex Berenson on April 21, 2021.

Berenson has been criticized notably for his stance on vaccines, including claims that side effects are dangerous or more severe than flu shots. On July 11, 2021, Chief Medical Advisor to the President Anthony Fauci described a crowd cheering Berenson’s anti-vaccine comments at the Conservative Political Action Committee as “horrifying,” according to The Hill.

Social media companies have been colluding with government officials to suppress information that is deemed too harmful to the Narrative™ that the Left is pushing. COVID was a perfect opportunity to expand the efforts, but Facebook, Twitter, and search engine Google have been manipulating the information available to Americans for years.

As private companies these massive, nearly monopoly companies have been able to do this without serious consequence. They have market power due to what are known as “network effects” (the service’s value is exponentially greater the larger the network of users is, because the users are looking to communicate with audiences only available within the network).

But conspiring with government officials is another matter. Not that the companies themselves are necessarily breaking a law, but the government officials themselves are doing an end-run around the First Amendment. Government agents are not supposed to be able to get around limits to their power by deputizing private companies to break the law or violate constitutional protections.

“Throughout this case, we have uncovered a disturbing amount of collusion between Big Tech and Big Government,” said Landry in the states’ press release. “This egregious attack on our First Amendment will be met with an equally full-hearted defense of the rights of the American people.”

Obviously there is no surprise in this discovery. We already know that Facebook and Twitter were working with the FBI to suppress “disinformation” such as the entirely factual news about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

There needs to be a great deal of pain involved in suppressing people’s rights, and suing Slavitt and other officials for suppressing the free speech rights of citizens seems like a novel way to impose it.

I hope it works. We keep on hearing bogus claims about threats to our democracy–always from the people who are working assiduously to undermine our democratic rights.

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