WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division stunned a Republican lawmaker in a Tuesday hearing when she said she hadn’t heard of a major First Amendment lawsuit currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case alleges that members of the Biden administration colluded with social media companies to suppress content deemed to be “misinformation,” including COVID-19-related content and information related to Hunter Biden.
In a Tuesday hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, Assistant AG Kristen Clarke said she was “not familiar” with the ongoing litigation in the first amendment lawsuit Missouri v. Biden, a major case that LifeSiteNews has extensively covered.
Clarke made the remarks after Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina cited a July 4 opinion by Judge Terry Doughty stating that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim.”
“If the allegations made by the plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack on free speech in United States history,’” Doughty said in his opinion, which Rep. Bishop referenced in the Tuesday hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court has subsequently agreed to take up the case, now dubbed Murthy v. Missouri.
Noting that the litigation has been strictly civil to date, Bishop asked Clarke whether “any criminal investigation or criminal prosecution of the persons responsible for that activity” is “underway in the [DOJ] civil rights division?”
“Congressman, I’m not familiar with this litigation, but [I’m] happy to bring your question back,” Clarke said.
Bishop asked Clarke to confirm whether she was saying she was “not aware of the Missouri v. Biden litigation that is currently being taken up by the United States Supreme Court.”
“Is that correct?” Bishop said.
“Unfortunately, I’m not, Congressman,” Clarke said.
The Assistant AG for Civil Rights at the DOJ has ZERO awareness of the Missouri v. Biden case, which is set to be heard by SCOTUS.
A US District Court called the Biden admin’s actions in the case “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) December 5, 2023
As LifeSiteNews has reported, the First Amendment lawsuit argues that numerous Biden administration officials had “colluded with and/or coerced social-media platforms to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content.”
“In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiffs in the case are two states, Missouri and Louisiana, along with three doctors who have publicly spoken out against the prevailing COVID-19 narrative: Aaron Kheriaty, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Jayanta “Jay” Bhattacharya. Co-Director of Health Freedom Louisiana Jill Hines and Jim Hoft, owner of the news site The Gateway Pundit, are also plaintiffs in the case.
In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed the suit to proceed against the Surgeon General as well as members of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the CDC, and the FBI.
According to the filing, the plaintiffs allege that government officials employed “public pressure campaigns, private meetings, and other forms of direct communication” against so-called “disinformation,” “misinformation,” and “malinformation,” and “colluded with and/or coerced social-media platforms to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms.”
Per the Fifth Circuit, the plaintiffs “had posts and stories removed or downgraded by” social media companies that government officials had “urged … to remove disfavored content and accounts from their sites.”
The federal court noted that the plaintiffs said the content that was “removed or downgraded” had “touched on a host of divisive topics like the COVID-19 lab-leak theory, pandemic lockdowns, vaccine side effects, election fraud, and the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
“The Plaintiffs maintain that although the platforms stifled their speech, the government officials were the ones pulling the strings,” the ruling stated.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in late October to take up the case, though it has allowed the Biden administration to continue its communications with social media companies in the meantime.