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FRANK RICCI: Biden Admin’s ‘Misinformation’ Crackdown Faces Day Of Reckoning At SCOTUS

Photo by Stephen Talas / Unsplash

By Frank Ricci, The Daily Caller News Foundation | March 17, 2024

On March 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a landmark First Amendment case Murthy v. Missouri (formerly Missouri v. Biden). The crux of the case offers a compelling question: can the government utilize non-government entities to silence  “millions” of Americans’ free speech on the basis of preventing “misinformation”?

The plaintiffs — who include epidemiologists, consumer and human rights advocates, academics, and media operators along with the state of Louisiana and Missouri — claim the White House, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surgeon General and the FBI targeted and censored conservative-leaning speech ranging from the COVID-19 lab leak theory, mask and vaccine efficacy, as well as the Hunter Biden laptop story. 

The thought crime of publicly scrutinizing and questioning the Biden administration’s pandemic policy was apparently too much for government officials to tolerate. So, the administration enlisted social media companies to de-platform individuals, throttling or outright deleting online content.

However, the diverse occupations represented in the case highlights that these matters of public concern were ripe for rigorous debate, especially when the American people demanded transparency and accountability from their elected officials.

The government’s censorship curtails individual freedoms, while jeopardizing the health of democratic governance — the very campaign issue Biden’s team, ironically claims to want to protect from existential threats. In the realm of public health policies, the censorship’s consequences are particularly evident as American school children — forced from in-person learning into online classes — continue suffering from significant learning loss.

Moreover, nurses, doctors, police officers and firefighters from Seattle to New York City were forced out or outright fired for not taking the vaccines — even though the mandates are now lifted and were based off the faulty premises that the vaccinated could not contract or transmit the virus. Still, many of these heroes have not been brought back to work.

When legitimate concerns are silenced, the policymaking process becomes vulnerable to groupthink and undue influence by special interest groups that could lead to draconian measures.

Ben Franklin taught us in “Apology for Printers” that “Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Public; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.”

Unfortunately, it is a tale as old as time where the government directly or through it proxies persecute or attempt to silence those who endeavor to ask the hard questions or expose their corrupt actions. The antidote to this encroachment on our rights is more information through quality research and cogent debate.

Yankee Institute has joined as an interested party on an Amicus Brief filed by Advancing American Freedom (AAF) to challenge this unconstitutional government intervention. “The Constitution protects the freedom of speech from government abridgment, but the Biden administration sought to circumvent the First Amendment by engaging private parties, namely social media companies, to act as its speech police,” General Counsel J. Marc Wheat stated.

America’s founding was predicated on the ability to constrain government and protect the rights of the people. The right to free speech is the bedrock to a democratic republic, even the voices we personally abhor.

Individual liberty should never be sacrificed on the altar of collectivism. The Biden administration’s alleged blatant lawlessness, designed to quash free speech, has had a chilling effect on Americans’ confidence and ability to participate in the virtual town square.

America can no longer afford to permit the government to encroach on our cherished First Amendment rights by acting as the de facto speech police — or make others do their “dirty work.”

Frank Ricci is a fellow at the Yankee Institute. He was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Ricci v. DeStefano and the author of the book Command Presence.