Douglas Andrews / August 18, 2022

Alex Berenson Sues the Biden Administration for 1A Infringement

A COVID truth-teller has already prevailed against Twitter, and he has the goods on Team Biden.

Alex Berenson is pale, sweaty, and baggy-eyed, and he looks more like a computer science professor than a crusader for First Amendment rights. And yet here he is, suing the pants off the censors at Twitter and in the Biden White House.

We should be rooting like hell for him.

Berenson is back on Twitter after having been “permanently” banned from the platform for nearly a year because, Twitter claimed, he was spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19. Last week, the former New York Times reporter settled his lawsuit against the hard-left social media company, which admitted its mistake and restored his account.

What sort of “misinformation” was Berenson accused of spreading? What was it that got him the lifetime ban? Oh, irrefutable, evidence-based “misinformation” like this, which he tweeted last August:

It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it — at best — as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.

As you can imagine, that bit of bold truth-telling was too much for the authoritarians in the Biden administration. But as it turns out, they’d been gunning for Berenson long before that. And Berenson, through his legal discovery in the aforementioned Twitter lawsuit, now has the smoking gun: electronic conversations from an internal Twitter communication channel that referred to an April 2021 meeting with White House officials in which a Twitter employee said, “[The White House] had one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off from the platform.” The employee wrote that Andy Slavitt, then a senior White House COVID adviser, “suggested they had seen data … that had showed [Berenson] was the epicenter of disinfo that radiated outwards to the persuadable public.”

Oops. And now Twitter is telling us that it’s implemented a “Civic Integrity Policy” to make sure its users can make “informed decisions.” And Twitter wonders why we don’t trust it.

As for disinformation, wasn’t the Biden administration recently ridiculed to no end for trying to prop up a “Disinformation Governance Board” to be led by a hard-left Mary Poppins wannabe?

Berenson’s case seems pretty simple on its face. Indeed, author and business executive Vivek Ramaswamy and Yale Law professor and First Amendment expert Jed Rubenfeld spell it out with crystal clarity and succinctness in the subhead of their piece in today’s Wall Street Journal: “Alex Berenson was kicked off the site at the White House’s urging. That’s a violation of the First Amendment.”

Here, we should remember that the First Amendment begins with the words, “Congress shall make no law,” not, “Private employers shall make no rule.” This illustrates the distinction between the government’s suppression of dissenting speech, which is constitutionally forbidden, and, say, Big Tech’s suppression of dissenting speech by cowardly and repulsive tactics such as deplatforming and shadow-banning, neither of which is a constitutional violation because their perpetrators aren’t governmental entities.

But what if, say, the Biden administration orders or (ahem) encourages private companies to censor others on its behalf? That’s precisely what Biden’s incompetent and dithering COVID response team did, and that’s a First Amendment violation. As Ramaswamy and Rubenfeld continue:

When the government exploits these legislative inducements to target specific critics for censorship, it has crossed a constitutional Rubicon. Targeting, punishing and silencing dissenters is the paradigmatic First Amendment violation. The Biden administration is using Big Tech as its private censorship arm, and that violates what the Supreme Court, in Norwood v. Harrison (1973), called an “axiomatic” principle: The government “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.”

Censorship, it seems, has now become an almost exclusive weapon of the Left. And that makes perfect sense, because the stronger arguments tend overwhelmingly to come from the Right. And because those on the Right don’t tend to be afraid of debate.

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: If they weren’t afraid of losing the argument, they wouldn’t need to censor us.

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