Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal released an op-ed penned by Donald Trump. It was called, “Why I’m Suing Big Tech.”
Trump began by noting:
One of the gravest threats to our democracy today is a powerful group of Big Tech corporations that have teamed up with government to censor the free speech of the American people. This is not only wrong—it is unconstitutional. To restore free speech for myself and for every American, I am suing Big Tech to stop it.
At this point, if you don’t agree that a handful of big tech monopolies having an inordinate amount of control over what information and news the American people see is a threat to democracy, you are either naive or unaware of what’s actually going on. That being said, many people would view Trump’s claim that this is unconstitutional as debatable, but he actually does make a decent case for it.
In recent years, we have all watched Congress haul Big Tech CEOs before their committees and demand that they censor “false” stories and “disinformation”—labels determined by an army of partisan fact-checkers loyal to the Democrat Party. As the cases of fellow plaintiffs Ms. Horton, Dr. Victory and the Michael family demonstrate, in practice this amounts to suppression of speech that those in power do not like.
Further, Big Tech and government agencies are actively coordinating to remove content from the platforms according to the guidance of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Tech and traditional media entities formed the Trusted News Initiative, which essentially takes instructions from the CDC about what information they need to “combat.” The tech companies are doing the government’s bidding, colluding to censor unapproved ideas.
This coercion and coordination is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that Congress can’t use private actors to achieve what the Constitution prohibits it from doing itself. In effect, Big Tech has been illegally deputized as the censorship arm of the U.S. government. This should alarm you no matter your political persuasion. It is unacceptable, unlawful and un-American.
When this lawsuit was initially announced, I thought it was a good idea for a number of reasons, but was dubious that Trump could win it. Realistically, it’s still going to be an uphill climb at the Supreme Court. However, there is an argument to be made that the government is using the tech monopolies to violate the First Amendment on its behalf. If the CDC is allowed to choose what information about COVID gets out and what information doesn’t, while the party in power is able to coerce tech monopolies into silencing views it doesn’t like, there is an argument to be made that this is a roundabout way of circumventing the First Amendment. Will 5 originalist justices on the Supreme Court buy that argument? Possibly, although it’s too early to say. Whatever the case may, if you care about freedom of speech, you should be grateful that Trump is fighting for it.
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