Democrats’ obstruction comes in wake of Missouri v. Biden ruling that the Biden Administration’s collusion ‘arguably involves the most massive attack on free speech in United States history’
WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding last week’s ruling in Missouri v. Biden, that the Biden Administration unlawfully colluded with Big Tech to silence Americans in violation of the First Amendment, and sought to pass his Disclose Government Censorship Act, which requires the federal government to disclose when it works with Big Tech to censor Americans’ speech. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats blocked the legislation for the second time.
Hagerty’s legislation seeks to end the secret government-directed speech suppression and viewpoint censorship in which the Biden White House has admittedly engaged—actions that have now been ruled to violate the First Amendment. S.1672 requires basic transparency regarding when Americans’ government is attempting to control what they can say or read. The Act contains appropriate exceptions to protect legitimate law enforcement or national security activity.
Yet, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) blocked its passage.
Senator Hagerty’s remarks and the debate exchange may be found here. Text of his prepared remarks is below.
Senator Hagerty: Mr. President, just last week, a federal judge ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the Biden Administration from colluding with Big Tech to censor Americans’ speech. So, the court ordered Biden Administration officials and agencies not to coordinate with Big Tech platforms to suppress speakers and viewpoints they disagree with.
This seems obvious. The First Amendment would mean little if government could simply use Big Tech to get around it. Who disagrees with the basic principle that government-directed censorship is un-American and unconstitutional?
Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, the Biden Administration does.
The Justice Department quickly asked the Court of Appeals to stay this ruling and allow its censorship activities to continue.
In recent years, increasing evidence has emerged regarding a disturbing alliance in which Big Government and Big Tech work together to censor speech that they do not want the American people to see.
Published emails among Twitter executives reveal the extent to which the company worked to prevent Americans from seeing a New York Post news story just weeks before the 2020 election. The extent of the suppression was breathtaking. Indeed, the Twitter executives locked the Twitter account of the White House Press Secretary simply for mentioning this story.
Facebook admits that it likewise limited the spread of this story based a general warning from the FBI about propaganda.
This censorship activity has carried over into the Biden Administration.
In 2021, then-Press-Secretary Jen Psaki stated that the government is “in regular touch with social-media platforms” and “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread [what she called] ‘disinformation’.”
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, disclosed that it has communicated with more than 30 federal officials about content moderation on its platform—including senior employees at the FDA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the White House. YouTube, which is owned by Google, disclosed it had such communications with 11 federal officials.
The disturbing truth is that when Biden Administration officials don’t like what Americans are saying, they simply reach out to their allies at Big Tech companies to silence it.
Government using its power to coerce censorship of disfavored information is what the Chinese Communist Party or the North Korean regime would do. It is not only fundamentally un-American, but often unconstitutional.
The other day, a federal court confirmed that the government cannot use Big Tech as a tool to end-run the First Amendment.
The Judge wrote that the case, and I quote, “arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history…”
Americans deserve to know when their government and Big Tech platforms are trying to manipulate what they can say or read.
I introduced legislation last Congress, and again this past May, to require this transparency.
The Disclose Government Censorship Act would require that government officials publicly disclose communications with Big Tech regarding actions to restrict speech. The Act contains appropriate exceptions to protect legitimate law enforcement or national security activity.
Our nation was founded on the idea that protecting citizens’ speech from government censorship—under the First Amendment—would protect the people’s right to govern themselves by preventing the government from controlling information and ideas.
Americans deserve to know when their government is covertly trying to accomplish what the First Amendment prohibits.
The motion was objected to by Peters, who opposed allowing Americans to see when government is trying to silence them and eliminate improper government efforts to ban speech.
Senator Hagerty: Mr. President, my Democratic colleague is objecting to legislation that simply allows Americans to see when the government is trying to censor them. My colleague suggests that this is because of concern over protections for law-enforcement or national-security work.
Yet, my legislation contains appropriate exceptions to protect legitimate law enforcement or national security activity and preserve the confidentiality of those communications.
But if the details of those protections are my colleague’s only concern, then I’m happy to work with my colleague to address those concerns and ensure that the core of this legislation—which requires disclosure of government censorship efforts—is quickly enacted.
I hope my colleague will commit to doing so because this problem is too significant to ignore.
Our government works for the American people. To ensure this continues, the First Amendment prohibits the government from controlling what Americans can say or read.
But now, government is using Big Tech to accomplish such censorship. Without disclosure of such communications, Americans’ free speech rights become a dead letter because there is no way to address improper government efforts to ban speech.
My legislation would preserve these rights by allowing Americans to see when government is trying to silence them. This is a basic element of self-government.
I yield the floor.