A federal judge in Louisiana ruled Tuesday that the Biden administration has 21 days to turn over all relevant emails sent by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Dr. Anthony Fauci to social media platforms regarding alleged misinformation and the censorship of social media content.
The decision by Judge Terry Doughty, who was appointed by former President Trump, came as part of a lawsuit filed in May by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, accusing the Biden administration of suppressing the constitutionally protected right to free speech on elections, the COVID-19 lab leak theory, coronavirus-related lockdowns and other issues.
The Justice Department objected to the handing over of the email correspondence under executive privilege and presidential communications privilege, but Doughty decided, “This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms.”
Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate in Misssouri, announced the development regarding his lawsuit on Twitter.
In their initial filing, he and Landry argued that “having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation’.”
“As a result of these actions, there has been an unprecedented rise of censorship and suppression of free speech – including core political speech – on social media platforms,” the lawsuit says. “Not just fringe views, but perfectly legitimate, responsible viewpoints and speakers have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally threatened in the modern public square.”
In response to the ruling, an administration official told Fox News that as a general matter, “as we have said over and over again since the beginning of the administration in our battle against COVID-19, it has been critical for the American people to have access to factual, accurate, science-based information.”
“For example, we worked hard to debunk inaccurate or misleading information about the COVID vaccines that have saved millions of lives and encourage Americans to get vaccinated and boosted to stay safe,” the Biden administration official said by email. “Democrats and Republicans came together to urge the public to get vaccinated, stressing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.”
“We believe in and we support freedom of speech, and we also believe it is important for all media platforms, including social media, to represent factual scientific information and combat misinformation and disinformation that can cost lives,” the official concluded.
Responding to a Fox News request for comment about the ruling on the emails from Jean-Pierre and Fauci, Andy Stone, the communications director for Meta, formerly known as Facebook, referred to his public tweet published last week regarding the lawsuit.
“This is at least the third major news cycle about our work with the CDC to address harmful misinformation about COVID, and the least informative,” Stone tweeted on Sept. 1, days before the ruling. “We announced that we would be doing this in 2020, during the Trump Administration.”