"The freedom of speech in the United States now faces one of its greatest assaults by federal government officials in the Nation's history," reads a line in the opening paragraph of the plaintiff's complaint in Missouri v. Biden, a lawsuit naming the president, the Justice Department, the FBI, and nearly the entire federal public health apparatus as defendants.
Attorneys general for the states of Missouri and Louisiana brought the case against the federal government in May 2022 for what they describe as "open collusion with social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content."
On July 4 of this year, U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty issued a preliminary injunction ordering the federal agencies to cease from meeting with social media companies for the purpose of "inducing in any manner the removal…of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms." Last week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a challenge to that injunction.
Join Reason's Zach Weissmueller this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern for a live discussion of this case with Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine, economics, and health research policy at Stanford University and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit, and John Vecchione of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, an activist law firm that joined the suit on behalf of Bhattacharya and several other plaintiffs who allege the federal government illegally suppressed their speech throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election.
They'll talk about the state of the lawsuit, what a victory or loss in court would mean for free speech online, the legal limits of government–social media "partnerships," and the ways in which the government blurred the line between private content moderation and outright censorship to suppress or mislabel factual information or opinion as "misinformation" during the COVID-19 pandemic.