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Landmark censorship case preliminary injunction hearing March 18 2024

Listen live: 9am ET March 18 2024

Background courtesy of Stand For Health Freedom

Censorship, SCOTUS, and the WHO

What does Missouri v. Biden have to do with the World Health Organization?

Guest post by Health Freedom Louisiana co-Director Jill Hines

Undoubtedly, one of the most surreal experiences in my life is being a plaintiff in one of the most consequential lawsuits of our time, Missouri v. Biden.This historic censorship case includes evidence that our federal government used social media platforms to censor American speech about some of the most critical social events of our time, including the COVID pandemic. 

On March 18th, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear an appeal from the defendants, in this case, the government. (Because the government is fighting the lower rulings, the case name flips to name a government official, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, first, so the case before SCOTUS is now referred to as Murthy v. Missouri1.)  SCOTUS will determine if the preliminary injunction, originally put in place by United States District Chief Judge Terry Doughty on July 4, 2023, will remain in place, thus preventing further communication with social media companies for the intent of censoring otherwise free speech. A preliminary injunction stops a party from committing more harm while the slow wheels of justice turn. The outcome of this appeal has vast implications on what our society will look like going forward, especially in light of the 2024 presidential election, because it will determine whether and how the government can use social media to push out their message and agenda. 

The stakes are unbelievably high.

Originally filed by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana in June of 2022, Missouri v. Biden has revealed a government censorship apparatus that touches almost every federal agency. While shocking in scope, the evidence provided in discovery through emails, depositions, and public comments from high-ranking government officials has left little doubt of the government’s intent to censor and the means by which censorship was achieved.

As a matter of fact, in his July 4th ruling2 granting the now contested preliminary injunction, Judge Doughty wrote:

“The Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the Government has used its power to silence the opposition. Opposition to COVID-19 vaccines; opposition to COVID-19 masking and lockdowns; opposition to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; opposition to President Biden’s policies; statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true; and opposition to policies of the government officials in power. All were suppressed. It is quite telling that each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature. This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech. American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country.

Although this case is still relatively young, and at this stage the Court is only examining it in terms of Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.’”

Judge Doughty’s footnote describing an “Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’” is chilling. He notes:

An “Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’” refers to the concept presented in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, ‘1984.’ In the novel, the Ministry of Truth is a governmental institution responsible for altering historical records and disseminating propaganda to manipulate and control public perception.

The briefs in Missouri v. Biden have revealed an appalling arrogance among high ranking government officials who are intent on not only policing America’s words but thoughts, as well. For example, Jen Easterly, Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), stated:

“One could argue that we’re in the business of protecting critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure,” Easterly said. “We now live in a world where people talk about alternative facts, post-truth, which I think is really, really dangerous if people get to pick their own facts,” Easterly said.”3

This type of rhetoric from unelected government bureaucrats is incredibly disturbing, especially considering the events of the last four years, when the need for public discourse was undoubtedly at its zenith. 

In another instance, an email to former White House Senior COVID-19 Advisor Andy Slavitt reveals a diabolical plan to manipulate the public perception of COVID vaccines by suppressing “often-true content” about an individual’s “personal experiences and concerns about the vaccine, but can be framed as sensation, alarmist, or shocking.” The Facebook employee goes on to state that Facebook will “remove these Groups, Pages, and Accounts when they are disproportionately promoting this sensationalized content.”4

We now know that by utilizing censorship, the government curated a story of fear and despair about COVID that was very well out of proportion to what may have happened without oppressive public health policy. The government, working in lockstep with the World Health Organization, suppressed effective treatments, convinced us to allow our loved ones to suffer and die alone, manipulated public perception about vaccines, created and prolonged a panic that gave an excuse for legislatures to implement broad mail-in and curbside voting schemes, blocked our free movement and association, interfered with the practice of religion, convinced and coerced hundreds of millions of Americans to take an unsafe vaccine, suppressed the stories of individuals killed and injured by the vaccines, and marginalized the voices of those sharing the catastrophic harm they have experienced.

The government has no intention to stop censoring Americans.

Incredibly, one of the more disturbing facts revealed during the May 2023 preliminary injunction hearing before Judge Doughty is the government’s intention to continue censoring Americans.

At one point, Judge Doughty bluntly asked the government’s attorneys: 

THE COURT [JUDGE DOUGHTY]:  You’ve got a 2024 election that’s going to be a hotly contested election coming up.  So how can I be sure that this is not going to happen again, that the government is not going to tie up with the Election Integrity Project again and start suppressing or asking this stuff to be suppressed?

Y’all are telling me it’s not going to happen.

The response from the government’s attorney stunned everyone in the room, myself included. 

MS. SNOW:  Your Honor, two responses to that.  And, first of all, it is not the government’s argument that, you know, this, you know, will never happen again.  It is the government’s position that the conduct here, everything that plaintiffs are challenging, they haven’t shown a violation of the First Amendment.  They haven’t shown state action to even get to the question of whether there’s been a First Amendment violation.  There’s nothing unlawful about the government’s use of the bully pulpit or these communications with social media companies.

But the question for the Court is whether plaintiffs have presented evidence that they will be irreparably harmed.  And they bear the burden of showing that the conduct is ongoing in such a way that they will be irreparably harmed.

And they haven’t shown that.  The record shows that much of the conduct that they’re challenging isn’t currently ongoing, and that’s a critical question for the preliminary injunction.  That’s all the Court needs to determine at this stage.

THE COURT:  Okay.  All right.  Mr. — You can go ahead now.

MR. SAUER:  Your Honor, I think she just conceded that they are going to do it again.  I heard her say —

THE COURT:  She didn’t say no, did she?  She didn’t say no, but she might want to say that.  Go ahead.

MR. SAUER:  I think she just said that, you know what, there’s nothing unlawful about this.  This is all A-OK. And as soon as it makes sense to us, we will do it again.  And that’s a really important concession.5

This is why the issue before SCOTUS on March 18 is so incredibly important: The government has no intention of ending their coercion of social media outlets to do its bidding when it comes to censoring disfavored speech. 

There have been approximately 100 amicus briefs submitted by states, members of Congress, state legislatures, and organizations from across the U.S. in support of the plaintiffs’ position on the preliminary injunction. These entities see the dangers of government-imposed censorship. But a troubling list of organizations and entities have submitted amicus briefs to SCOTUS in its support of the government’s position on censorship.6 They include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. 
  • American Medical Association. 
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. 
  • American College of Physicians. 
  • American Geriatrics Society.
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 
  • Common Cause.
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
  • The Coalition for Independent Technology Research.
  • Stanford University.
  • Senator Mark Warner.
  • Secretaries of state of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont.
  • 23 states including New York, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

Free speech should not be a partisan issue and yet there’s a clear delineation between states that favor the government’s actions and those that do not. There’s also a clear delineation on how these listed states treated other inalienable rights during the pandemic – almost all imposed harsher restrictions. 

The above list represents a credible threat to free speech in America.

Which brings me to the World Health Organization…

The World Health Organization also has no intention to stop trying to censor Americans.

While the states of Missouri and Louisiana have been fighting a concerted and heroic battle to end the federal government’s stated goal of continued manipulation and censorship of free speech online, the Biden administration is working to advance the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) adoption of a pandemic treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), which would clearly state the necessity of surveilling speech and countering “misinformation” online if adopted. This makes the SCOTUS ruling on the preliminary injunction all the more important, because what the Court says now about government censorship will either reinforce our Constitution’s foundation of freedom or it will let the cracks get bigger.

Article 18 of the proposed WHO agreement (March 13, 20247) looks like a chapter out of the CISA playbook and is indeed a roadmap of censorship under the guise of “communication and public awareness.”

Note the proposed new definition for “infodemic” (February 8, 2024)8:

(f) “infodemic” means too much information, false or misleading information, in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. It causes confusion and risk-taking behaviours that can harm health. It also leads to mistrust in health authorities and undermines public health and social measures.9
The latest iteration of the IHR10 also includes provisions for “risk communication, including countering misinformation and disinformation” at the local and national level.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a cousin of the WHO under the umbrella of the United Nations, has gone a step further by creating a campaign for identifying “conspiracy theories.”11

Conspiracy theories cause real harm to people, to their health, and also to their physical safety. They amplify and legitimize misconceptions about the pandemic, and reinforce stereotypes which can fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies.  ~UNESCO Director-General

Even with the likelihood of success of the states and plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden, the systems are in place for the “Ministry of Truth” to continue toward its goal to control speech, and thereby perception, by suppressing or eliminating disfavored speech following the adoption of the WHO’s amendments and regulations.

In his July 4th ruling Judge Doughty quoted President Harry Truman, who said:

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one place to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

Americans have experienced a government “committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition.”  We must acknowledge that the battle for free speech is not over with a win in Murthy v. Missouri, or even Missouri v. Biden, rather it is a battle that requires constant engagement against those who would usurp freedom of speech for the advancement of science and public health, regardless of whether the threat is foreign or domestic. 

Editor’s note: Stand for Health Freedom has been on the front lines with both the threat to the First Amendment during the declared pandemic as well as the announcement of a pandemic treaty in 2021. We will continue to bring you important updates and action items that will make an impact!


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