Here’s the Lawsuit by Robert F Kennedy Jr against Joseph R Biden Jr
On 24 March 2024, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Connie Sampognaro filed suit, requesting a jury trial, against President Biden and his Administration, for violating the First Amendment’s freedom-of-speech clause, by encouraging private actors to censor public speech and publications in all media, thus indirectly censoring public expressions that contradict the Administration.
Here is the entire 120-page lawsuit, where you can see the documentation for the charge:
And here are its opening statements, so that you can see what this case is about:
By and for their complaint herein, on personal knowledge with respect to themselves and on information and belief with respect to all other allegations, Plaintiffs allege as follows.
A half century ago, in Norwood v. Harrison, 413 U.S. 455, 465 (1973), the Supreme Court reaffirmed what the Justices called an “axiomatic” principle of constitutional law.
The Court set forth this principle categorically, without qualification or dissent.
The principle was this: government “may not induce, encourage, or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” Id. (citation omitted) (emphasis added).
The Norwood principle is “axiomatic” because, without it, government actors could evade nearly every prohibition in the Bill of Rights through the simple expedient of inducing private parties to do what the Constitution bars the government from doing directly.“Constitutional limitations on governmental action would be severely undercut if the government were allowed to actively encourage conduct by ‘private’ persons or entities that is prohibited to the government itself.” United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 904 (9th Cir. 1973) (federal government may not constitutionally seek to induce private airlines to conduct searches that would violate the Fourth Amendment if engaged in by state actors).
The Norwood principle fully applies to the First Amendment. As Justice Thomas recently put it, the government acts unconstitutionally if it “induces [a private entity] to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint.” Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia Univ., 141 S. Ct. 1220, 1226 (2021) (Thomas, J., concurring).
Today, fifty years after Norwood, the federal government has apparently forgotten this axiomatic principle — or else has decided it isn’t bound by a clear holding of the United States Supreme Court.
Beginning in early 2020 and continuing to the present day, the federal government has waged a systematic, concerted campaign, astonishing in its breadth and effectiveness, to “induce, encourage, [and] promote” the nation’s three largest social-media platforms “to accomplish what [the government] is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish” — namely, the censorship of constitutionally protected speech.
Those three social-media companies — Facebook,1 Google,2 and Twitter3 — wield a power over the content of American public discourse far greater than any entity, private or public, has ever wielded before. See Knight First Amendment Institute, 141 S. Ct. at 1221 (Thomas, J., concurring) (“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech. . . Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.”).
Since 2020, an ever-growing army of federal officers, at every level of the government — from the White House itself to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the CDC, the Office of the Surgeon General, and numerous less-well-known federal entities — has been engaged in the effort to induce those companies to censor constitutionally protected speech.
Through this censorship campaign, federal agents and agencies have encouraged, promoted, and induced those companies to stifle viewpoints that the government disfavors, to suppress facts that the government does not want the public to hear, and to silence specific speakers — in every case critics of federal policy — whom the government has targeted by name.
Because of the historically unprecedented power wielded by a handful of behemoth social-media companies over the content of American public discourse, the federal government’s systematic campaign to induce these companies to censor speech is among the gravest threats to free speech this country has ever faced.
With virtually every passing week come fresh disclosures of secret communications between federal officials and social-media platforms working together to suppress constitutionally protected speech — in the words of one eminent constitutional scholar, “the most massive system of censorship in the nation’s history.” Phillip Hamburger, Is Social-Media Censorship a Crime?, Wall St. J. (Dec. 14, 2022), https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-social-media-censorship-a-crime-section-241-us-code-government-private-conspiracy-civil-rights-speech-11670934266
This censorship campaign has involved repeated threats made by powerful members of the federal government, including the President himself, to visit catastrophic consequences on social-media companies (for example, breaking them up under the antitrust laws) if they fail to censor more aggressively speech that federal actors disfavor.
In addition, federal agents and agencies have repeatedly entered into collusive partnerships with social-media companies, working closely and jointly with those companies to decide what speech and what speakers to censor.
It is well established that the government violates the Constitution if it uses coercive threats to induce private parties to censor protected speech or if it engages in collusive joint action with private parties to violate the First Amendment. See, e.g., Bantam Books v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963) (threats); Brentwood Academy v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Assn., 531
Moreover, the government’s censorship campaign has been relentlessly content-based and viewpoint-discriminatory.
It is “a core postulate of free speech law” that “government may not discriminate against speech based on the ideas or opinions it conveys.” Iancu v. Brunetti, 139 S. Ct. 2294, 2299 (2019). See Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564, 573 (2002) (citation omitted) (“the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content”).
Yet the federal government’s censorship campaign has repeatedly, systematically, and very successfully targeted constitutionally protected speech on the basis of its content and viewpoint.
To give just three out of countless examples, this censorship campaign:
was responsible, just before the presidential election of 2020, for the online suppression of reporting about a laptop owned by President Biden’s son Hunter Biden — reporting now known to be accurate — an act of censorship that deprived Americans of information of the highest public interest and may even have swung the outcome of that election;
was responsible throughout much of 2020 and 2021 for the online suppression of any reporting, any information, or any expressions of opinion suggesting that COVID-19 may have originated in a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan, again depriving Americans of information and legitimate opinion of the highest public importance at a critical period of time; and
is responsible even now for the online suppression of facts and opinions about the COVID vaccines that might lead people to become “hesitant” about COVID vaccine mandates, again depriving Americans of information and opinion on matters of the highest public importance.
This is a class action for declaratory and injunctive relief (no damages are sought) brought on behalf of consumers of news on social-media platforms against the federal agencies and officers participating in this censorship campaign.
The Week magazine, in its issue dated July 21, 2023, has a half-page news-article about the Democratic Party’s primary contest, and it’s headlined “Whitmer: A better candidate than Biden?” It says: “Whitmer vows she won’t challenge Biden. But, if a crank like Robert F. Kennedy can poll as high as 20 percent, clearly many Democrats are open to, even desperate for, a Biden alternative. She could be it.” Another Democratic Party propaganda-outlet, Rolling Stone magazine, headlined, on July 17th, “RFK Jr. Is Raking in Big Money From GOP Donors”, and reported that, “He’s essentially been functioning as a right-wing operative in the Democratic primary.” Supposedly, then, Republican Party billionaires want Trump (or whomever will be the Republican nominee) to be running, in the general election, on 5 November 2024, against the one candidate who (at least as-of June 19th) had by far the highest net favorability rating, among all U.S. voters, of any U.S. politician, which is RFK Jr. Would that make sense? Would RFK Jr. really be even weaker in the general election than Biden would be? And would a President RFK Jr. be an even worse U.S. President than Biden is?
The two huge policy-differences between Biden and RFK Jr. are: RFK Jr. totally rejects censorship (violations of the First Amendment), and totally rejects imperialism by any country; whereas Biden totally supports both. (Biden is consistently pursuing American imperialism, and he is — such as in his prosecution against Assange — vigorously imposing censorship.) So: the anti-RFK-Jr. news-media portray him as being frighteningly right-wing, and portray Biden as being a trustworthy moderate or liberal.
The purpose of Democratic Party news-media is to antagonize that Party’s voters against him so that Biden will easily win the Party’s Presidential nomination.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s new book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.
Eric Zuesse blogs at https://theduran.com/author/eric-zuesse/