State of Mo. v. Biden

Docket Number3:22-CV-01213
Decision Date04 July 2023
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana




At issue before the Court is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. No. 10] filed by Plaintiffs.[1] The Defendants[2] oppose the Motion [Doc. No. 266]. Plaintiffs have filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 276]. The Court heard oral arguments on this Motion on May 26, 2023 [Doc. No. 288]. Amicus Curiae briefs have been filed in this proceeding on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom,[3] the Buckeye Institute,[4] and Children's Health Defense.[5]


I may disapprove of what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.

Evelyn Beatrice Hill, 1906, The Friends of Voltaire

This case is about the Free Speech Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The explosion of social-media platforms has resulted in unique free speech issues- this is especially true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States' history. In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment's right to free speech.

Although the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech, the issues raised herein go beyond party lines. 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, rather than to countenance monopolization of the market, whether it be by government itself or private licensee. Red Lion Broadcasting Co., v. F.C.C., 89 S.Ct. 1794, 1806 (1969).

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants, through public pressure campaigns private meetings, and other forms of direct communication regarding what Defendants described as “disinformation,” “misinformation,” and “malinformation,” have colluded with and/or coerced social-media platforms to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms. Plaintiffs also allege that the suppression constitutes government action, and that it is a violation of Plaintiffs' freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis added).

First Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. I.

The principal function of free speech under the United States' system of government is to invite dispute; it may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Texas v. Johnson, 109 S.Ct. 2533, 2542-43 (1989). Freedom of speech and press is the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Curtis Pub. Co. v. Butts, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 1986 (1967).

The following quotes reveal the Founding Fathers' thoughts on freedom of speech:

For if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.

George Washington, March 15, 1783.

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the free acts of speech.

Benjamin Franklin, Letters of Silence Dogwood.

Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.

Thomas Jefferson.

The question does not concern whether speech is conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive, or somewhere in between. What matters is that Americans, despite their views, will not be censored or suppressed by the Government. Other than well-known exceptions to the Free Speech Clause, all political views and content are protected free speech.

The issues presented to this Court are important and deeply intertwined in the daily lives of the citizens of this country.


In this case, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants suppressed conservative-leaning free speech, such as: (1) suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the 2020 Presidential election; (2) suppressing speech about the lab-leak theory of COVID-19's origin; (3) suppressing speech about the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns; (4) suppressing speech about the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccines; (5) suppressing speech about election integrity in the 2020 presidential election; (6) suppressing speech about the security of voting by mail; (7) suppressing parody content about Defendants; (8) suppressing negative posts about the economy; and (9) suppressing negative posts about President Biden.

Plaintiffs Bhattacharya and Kulldorff are infectious disease epidemiologists and co-authors of The Great Barrington Declaration (“GBD”). The GBD was published on October 4, 2020. The GBD criticized lockdown policies and expressed concern about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of lockdowns. They allege that shortly after being published, the GBD was censored on social media by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff further allege on October 8, 2020 (four days after publishing the GBD), Dr. Frances Collins, Dr. Fauci, and Cliff Lane proposed together a “take down” of the GBD and followed up with an organized campaign to discredit it.[6]

Dr. Kulldorff additionally alleges he was censored by Twitter on several occasions because of his tweets with content such as “thinking everyone must be vaccinated is scientifically flawed,” that masks would not protect people from COVID-19, and other “anti-mask” tweets.[7] Dr. Kulldorff (and Dr. Bhattacharya[8]) further alleges that YouTube removed a March 18, 2021 roundtable discussion in Florida where he and others questioned the appropriateness of requiring young children to wear facemasks.[9] Dr. Kulldorff also alleges that LinkedIn censored him when he reposted a post of a colleague from Iceland on vaccines, for stating that vaccine mandates were dangerous, for posting that natural immunity is stronger than vaccine immunity, and for posting that health care facilities should hire, not fire, nurses.[10]

Plaintiff Jill Hines is Co-Director of Health Freedom Louisiana, a consumer and human rights advocacy organization. Hines alleges she was censored by Defendants because she advocated against the use of masks mandates on young children. She launched an effort called “Reopen Louisiana” on April 16, 2020, to expand Health Freedom Louisiana's reach on social media. Hines alleges Health Freedom Louisiana's social-media page began receiving warnings from Facebook. Hines was suspended on Facebook in January 2022 for sharing a display board that contained Pfizer's preclinical trial data.[11] Additionally, posts about the safety of masking and adverse events from vaccinations, including VAERS data and posts encouraging people to contact their legislature to end the Government's mask mandate, were censored on Facebook and other social-media platforms. Hines alleges that because of the censorship, the reach of Health Freedom Louisiana was reduced from 1.4 million engagements per month to approximately 98,000. Hines also alleges that her personal Facebook page has been censored and restricted for posting content that is protected free speech. Additionally, Hines alleges that two of their Facebook groups, HFL Group and North Shore HFL, were de-platformed for posting content protected as free speech.[12]

Plaintiff Dr. Kheriaty is a psychiatrist who has taught at several universities and written numerous articles. He had approximately 158,000 Twitter followers in December 2021 and approximately 1,333 LinkedIn connections. Dr. Kheriaty alleges he began experiencing censorship on Twitter and LinkedIn after posting content opposing COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Dr. Kheriaty also alleges that his posts were “shadow banned,” meaning that his tweets did not appear in his follower's Twitter feeds. Additionally, a video of an interview of Dr. Kheriaty on the ethics of vaccine mandates was removed from YouTube.[13]

Plaintiff Jim Hoft is the owner and operator of The Gateway Pundit (“GP”), a news website located in St. Louis, Missouri. In connection with the GP, Hoft operates the GP's social-media accounts with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. The GP's Twitter account previously had over 400,000 followers, the Facebook account had over 650,000 followers, the Instagram account had over 200,000 followers, and the YouTube account had over 98,000 followers.

The GP's Twitter account was suspended on January 2, 2021 again on January 29, 2021, and permanently suspended from Twitter on February 6, 2021. The first suspension was in response to a negative post Hoft made about Dr. Fauci's statement that the COVID-19 vaccine will only block symptoms and not block the infection. The second suspension was because of a post Hoft made about changes to election law in Virginia that allowed late mail-in ballots without postmarks to be counted. Finally, Twitter issued the permanent ban after the...

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