U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., played a huge role in the false narrative carried for years by Democrats that President Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.
That has, of course, been debunked.
But the claims were cited in a long series of legal fights.
Now Schiff is playing a role in another legal fight: a dispute over the actions by Big Tech companies that violate the First Amendment because they are done at the behest of government officials, such as Schiff.
The Rutherford Institute, which often finds itself finding for individual and religious rights, has asked to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Children’s Health Defense, a group that sued Facebook over its censorship actions.
Constitutional amendments apply to governments, not private corporations, but the First is in play here because, Institute lawyers are arguing, “Facebook acted in concert with U.S. government officials and agencies to suppress and punish Children’s Health Defense for sharing information critical of the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Without being able to proceed in this lawsuit, Plaintiff CDF and others similarly situated would be left without any remedy for violation of their constitutional rights inflicted by government officials using big tech as their deputized proxy,” the filing explains.
“We should all be alarmed when prominent social-media voices are censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that are deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous, extremist or conspiratorial,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “At some point, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes ‘extremism,’ we might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other and subjected to technocensorship.”
The original case arose last year when Facebook, allegedly in retaliation for CHD’s “speech critical of vaccines and wireless technologies, violated the First Amendment’s guarantee to freedom of speech.”
“The lawsuit alleges that Facebook acted at the behest of and in concert with the U.S government, asserting that Congressman Adam Schiff had pressured Facebook to suppress ‘vaccine misinformation’ and that officials threatened to repeal a statute providing Facebook with immunity from liability,” the Institute said.
Facebook wants the claim dismissed because “it is a private entity and not subject to the First Amendment,” but the Institute argues “that CHD’s lawsuit must be allowed to proceed in order to protect the free speech rights of all citizens, which are threatened by the increasing collaboration of the government and social media giants to censor speech that challenges the status quo.”
The Institute is warning, in its filing, “against the rising threat to free speech posed by the government’s collusion with large technology companies in order to regulate and control what ideas can be shared on the internet and through social media.”
CHD was founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and is a nonprofit organization working to end childhood health epidemics by exposing causes, eliminating harmful exposures, seeking justice for those injured, and establishing safeguards to prevent future harms.
It is a critic of the proliferation of childhood vaccines and shares information about their dangers with the public.
Facebook has been waging “a campaign to discredit CHD: repeatedly posting labels and overlays on CHD’s Facebook page labeling information provided as ‘false,’ preventing persons visiting CHD’s Facebook page from making donations to CHD; and otherwise asserting that CHD violated Facebook’s terms of service by posting false information,” the Institute said.
The brief explains Schiff “sent to defendants” a letter “threatening their immunity from suit under CDA section 230 if defendants failed to censor content on the sites which Schiff and other congress members found objectionable.”
Facebook ultimately “acted in partnership with government actors including the CDC, a federal agency, and the CDC’s proxy, the WHO,” the filing states.
It charges, “Censorship of the kind CHD has been subjected to is increasing at a rate that poses a serious threat to the freedoms of all people, regardless of their views. Moreover, it is wholly contrary to university principles of freedom of speech that are the foundation for representative democracy.”
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