Select Page

Federal Judge Puts Brakes on Government Censorship

Federal Judge Puts Brakes on Government Censorship

The Supreme Court has issued a number of controversial – but correct – decisions lately.  But to use the old entertainment cliché, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”  There is a case that has not yet reached the Supreme Court, but I am betting it will in the future.  The case is Missouri v.  Biden et al.  It is in the earliest stage of judicial review, but already it could have enormous immediate impact.

Basically, Missouri v. Biden is a case brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana against several federal Executive Branch agencies under the Biden administration.   The plaintiffs are accusing the federal government of violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans by coordinating with social media platforms to censor or suppress the expressed opinions of individuals and organizations that do not comport to the Biden political narratives on such subjects as the Covid Pandemic, vaccines, elections and other political topics.  The censorship has been primarily directed at conservatives.

Judge Terry Doughty considers the Biden administration’s efforts to shut down opposition statements of such a serious assault on the First Amendment, that he issued an injunction forbidding administration officials from contacting social media platforms until the case can be heard.

In issuing his injunction, Doughty said there was “substantial evidence” that the government had undertaken a “far-reaching censorship campaign.”  He called it “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history” and compared it to the Orwellian Ministry of Truth from the novel “1984.”

Doughty considers the actions of the Biden administration to be such a threat to public speech and education that he imposed an unprecedented injunction on government agencies and officials — including the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI.  He has banned them from contacting social media platforms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”  Basically, the plaintiffs are accusing the Biden administration of using political influence and leverage to shut down any speech that refutes official narratives.  

By way of example, you will recall how early reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop were deemed to be untrue.  In fact, the White House and the FBI claimed that it was a concoction of Russian propaganda.  In response, social platforms were encouraged to blocked any postings that claimed the laptop was the property of Hunter Biden – even the reposting of a New York Post article was blocked by Facebook.  Eventually, it was established that the Post story was correct, and the government statements were … well … lies.

There is nothing more fundamental to a free society than the unfettered ability to speak truth to power.  If the choice is between government censorship or occasional misinformation being offered up in public forms, the latter is the only option for a free society.  The First Amendment is to guarantee our right to speak – even if wrong.  Truth is best determined by an exchange of opinions, not by the suppression of one view.

In recent years, we have seen a dangerous trend in which the vehicles of public information and dialogue are increasing aligning with one political force.  Both social media platforms and large segments of the news media have ceased to be platforms for the exchange of ideas, opinions and facts — and have become propaganda vehicles for a specific political ideology.

Missouri v. Biden is the first significant case to address this situation.  It could wind up being one of the federal courts most important cases.

So there ‘tis,

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

5 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    I like Daniel’s take on the exact same story better. His editor finds all the typos.

    While I don’t love the decision, not sure I would love the other decision either. I do like the fact that this will head to a higher, hopefully more objective, court and we can struggle through the issues of free speech, censorship, and misinformation in pubic discourse.

    I struggle personally with a culture that supports lies without penalties. And that’s who it seems we have become. FOX gets burned by a lie, but look what it took. Jones gets caught in a billion dollar lie and is still on the air. And Tucker goes free to make even more money with the same lies. America of old would have at least shunned these guys for their lies. Now we give them a pay raise. Or the Presidency.

    I struggle personally with a culture that rallies around massive disinformation campaigns terming anyone who points a finger as a witch hunt worse than the disinformation itself.

    Washington’s Cherry Tree story would buy him little reputation points in modern America.

    I would like to see that change and hope this court case might move us forward in that regard. I would like to at least see a societal punishment for lies and disinformation. I hate the idea of a governmental department of disinformation, but at some point, if our public communications platforms do not self-police, perhaps they need big brother’s “help.” Likewise, any platform that runs an algorithm, whether for search, or for seizure of lies (or what they call lies), or tomorrow when AI machine-lies our truths, needs to be transparent as to what, why, and perhaps who, they are judging, writing about, etc. Since this is all “slippery slope” stuff, adjudication is very important as perhaps oversight, monitoring, and even control. I would love to see the courts help in all this to make our speech not only FREE, but also truthful WHILE penalizing those who sow disinformation solely for personal, professional, religious, or political gain. IE — something should be done when people, good people, professional people, tell others about unproven medicines with known harm as cures —- that’s not free speech — that’s a hateful, harmful lie that the Founders would never accept. When you claim a mass murder is fake, you should not be on the air. And when you spew hate speak, you shouldn’t get a better paying job after being caught at the old one.

    But given parts of our society do not penalize, worse yet, they incentivize such behaviors, I feel the court is the best place to find our answers for the future.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … It is obvious that you do not understand the meaning and scope of the First Amendment. It protects even the most obnoxious speech. It few limitations are clearly established in law — slander, inciting riots, etc. The nation is constantly endangered by the likes of you who wish to take bites out of our First Amendment rights. Based on your stated standard on the limits of First Amendment rights, I would point to the fact that you are an abuser of your one limitation. Your insults are designed to hurt or injure. You constantly attack my reputation. You attack the PBP site to injury a its reputation and credibility in the market place. You lie. You have lied about me scores of times. Maybe YOU need to be arrested. Not really … because I respect your RIGHT to do all that. In terms of thee First Amendment, you are more than half way down the slippery slope. You are lucky that the owner of PBP is not like you … or your would have to find another hobby. Imagine, you constantly attack him, his writers and his site dishonestly in most cases, and he allows you to carry on your looooong and nasty screeds.

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        So, in your opinion, Larry, there is no such thing as libel? Or fraud? That’s what the government offices were trying to coordinate with the social media companies. They have a duty to their stockholders to try to keep from getting sued for printing lies, and the government was providing tools.

        Judge Doughty was nominated by Trump (of course) and blocked vaccine mandates for health workers and blocked a ban on federal gas and oil drilling leases (if you think that’s a bad idea, move to Texas or Florida where temperatures are hitting 120 degrees, and see if you still think global warming is a myth). And, as a matter of fact, the appeals court blocked Doughty’s decision. This was a case of judge-shopping, and this particular just is a crazy MAGA Q-Anon nutcase.

      • frank stetson

        I think you misread me re: free speech and the first amendment. I said I remember a society where the truth and lies mattered and there was punishment for lies. I never said “lock em up,’ that’s your side’s mantra. But surely you remember a time when a politicians lies ended his career. When a newscaster could not find a venue after a lie.

        As to the more formal process type stuff: I said I would like to see progress there to stop the lies as well, BUT for that it’s the court’s purview to decide and see if there’s a better solution, under the law. You got a problem with the law?

        I am just saying that I think the current situation is not as intended by the founders and lying for profit, to harm, is awful. Do you really think free speech means “embrace the lie?” Hoping society and the court’s might find a better way. I doubt it for the courts on this case, but hope still.

        Re: the lies — every time you spew this crap I ask for examples and proof. So far, crickets. But keep spreading the gospel.

        Re: the insults —- really trying not to except when taunted incessantly so sorry if I tweaked you again. Don’t see it here though. Of course, those are never lies :>)

  2. Juan

    WHen the mainstream media has becme PRAVDA for Biden and the Democrats we have a huge problem. Where are Woodward and Bernstein now with all the evidence of CORRUPTION by the Biden Family? I guess they only target wrongdoing by Republicans.

  1. "...arguably the most popular President of the 20th Century" - Yeah, right. Not even in the top half of the…