Judge: Biden Admin Violated First Amendment Rights of Stanford Doctor

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 10: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya speaks during a roundtable discussion wi
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A federal court of appeals ruled that the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI, and the surgeon general violated the First Amendment by using social media to suppress the speech and rhetoric of Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. 

Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine, economics, and health research policy at Stanford University. He co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in the fall of 2020 with professors from Harvard and Oxford. The book raised questions and concerns about how the country handled lockdowns during the pandemic.

“We were just acting as scientists, but almost immediately, we were censored,” Bhattacharya, director of Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging, told the New York Post. “Google de-boosted us. Our Facebook page was removed. It was just a crazy time.”

A New Orleans-based three-panel judge found that the federal government coerced social media companies to suppress certain viewpoints on the pandemic. 

“The government had a vast censorship enterprise,” Bhattacharya said. “It was systematically used to threaten and coerce and jawbone and tell all these social media companies, ‘You better listen to us: Censor these people, censor these ideas, or else.’”

Reporting from the Twitter Files — internal Twitter documents and communications released by Elon Musk after he acquired the social media site — revealed that Bhattachrya’s profile was suppressed on the platform. 

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty found in his July 4 ruling that the Biden administration “engaged in a years-long pressure campaign [on social media outlets] designed to ensure that the censorship aligned with the government’s preferred viewpoints” and that “the platforms, in capitulation to state-sponsored pressure, changed their moderation policies.”

The Biden administration appealed to the Supreme Court, but it is unlikely the Supreme Court will overturn the Fifth Circuit’s decision. 


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