(CBrief) – A federal judge ordered the Biden administration to hand over communication documents between the federal government and big tech companies. U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty, of the Western District of Louisiana, granted the order of discovery sought by Republican Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana.
President Joe Biden, members of his administration, and select social media companies must turn over documents and answer questions within the next 30 days during a discovery phase of a lawsuit alleging collusion to suppress freedom of speech, a court ruled. The attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri filed a lawsuit in May alleging Biden and eight high-ranking members of his administration and the government colluded with and/or coerced social media companies Meta, Twitter, and YouTube to suppress “disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social medial platforms.”
Terry Doughty, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, ruled there is “good cause” for the discovery process and set a timetable, including specific deadlines for depositions.
“In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress freedom of speech on a number of topics including the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of masks, and election integrity,” Missouri Republican Senate candidate and current Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Today, the Court granted our motion for discovery, paving the way for my office to gather important documents to get to the bottom of that alleged collusion. This is a huge development.”
The lawsuit alleges that social media companies labeled information as “misinformation” and “disinformation” in violation of the First Amendment and that the federal government went beyond its authority, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
When Republicans take control of the U.S. House in January, lawmakers have already vowed to zero in on the Biden administration’s cozy relationship with Big Tech.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan sent letters to CEOs from Apple, Amazon, Google parent Alphabet, Facebook parent Meta, and Microsoft, accusing them of being an arm of the Biden administration’s “woke speech police.”
“Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden Administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online,” Jordan wrote. “This approach undermines fundamental American principles and allows powerful government actors to silence political opponents and stifle opposing viewpoints.”
Jordan insisted the tech giants hand over documents and communication between their employees and “any individual affiliated with the Executive Branch” dating back to January 2020, pursuant to the committee’s probe into “the Biden administration’s collusion with Big Tech to censor, silence, or reduce the reach of certain information and viewpoints.”
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee also sent letters to Twitter owner Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting documents and communications from the platform to assist in an ongoing probe “to uncover any unconstitutional actions by government officials or agents working on their behalf.”
“Despite these clear constitutional limits on government action, reports continue to surface that government officials and agencies have conducted censorship campaigns involving social media platforms. Whether working through the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or other agencies, government officials should not tip the scale by urging social media platforms to disallow certain speech,” they wrote in the letter.
“A bedrock principle of our democracy is free speech,” the House Oversight Committee lawmakers wrote. “The government, in concert with social media, should not tell Americans what they can and cannot say online.”
Republicans are also furious with the most recent “Twitter Files” released by Twitter CEO Elon Musk and vowed to take action after it was shown that the FBI was involved in, to an extent, flagging content and sending it to Twitter executives to review.
The FBI responded to Fox News by defending itself and saying that it has organized with private businesses in the past.