Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has notched a victory in his legal battle against alleged government censorship of statements he made on social media that were critical of the COVID-19 vaccines.

A federal court has granted a preliminary injunction against the White House and other federal defendants in a lawsuit brought by Mr. Kennedy Jr. that accuses the Biden administration of orchestrating a campaign to pressure social media platforms to censor vaccine criticism.

Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued the ruling on Feb. 14, stating that Mr. Kennedy Jr. has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success in proving government infringement of his free speech rights.

The injunction prevents the defendants—which include the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the FBI—from taking any actions to coerce social media companies to remove or suppress content containing protected free speech.

The injunction remains on hold for the time being, however, as the proceeding in Mr. Kennedy Jr.’s lawsuit has been consolidated with the case of Missouri v. Biden, which is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The freeze will be in place for 10 days after the Supreme Court rules in Missouri v. Biden, which is based on the same evidence.

The defendants have, in prior public statements, denied illegally leaning on social media companies to stifle protected free speech.

Rather, they have said they only ever flagged objectionable content, such as that they claimed was “misinformation” and “disinformation” and that it violated the companies’ own terms of use.

‘Destructive, Coercive Threats’

Mr. Kennedy Jr., along with plaintiffs Children’s Health Defense and Connie Sampognaro, a health professional who says she was harmed by the government’s censorship campaign, have alleged in their class action complaint that the Biden administration violated their right to free speech.

They accuse President Joe Biden and other federal defendants of systematically and repeatedly using “destructive, coercive threats” to force social media platforms to censor protected speech.

The Biden administration is also accused of entering into “collusive partnerships” with social media companies and working with them to censor constitutionally protected expression.

Mr. Kennedy has argued that the defendants harmed him by censoring him on social media—in some cases deplatforming him entirely—and so preventing him from gathering vaccine-related news and passing it along to his hundreds of thousands of followers.

Children’s Health Defense has also made the same argument but, additionally, it claims that its many members were deprived of information and ideas about the safety and efficacy of alternative COVID-19 treatments.

Ms. Sampognaro has alleged that the Biden administration’s actions have harmed her as a health care policy advocate by depriving her of complete, accurate information about COVID-19 and possible treatments.

The complaint also asked the court to certify the case a class action to cover all people who consumed news related to COVID-19 or U.S. elections on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, at anytime from January 2020 to the present, and so who would have been harmed by government censorship of related facts.

‘Willingness to Coerce’

The lawsuit singled out several of the “countless examples” of the Biden administration’s alleged censorship campaign.

One was the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story on social media ahead of the 2020 presidential election, with the complaint calling it “an act of censorship that deprived Americans of information of the highest public interest” and that “may even have swung the outcome of that election.” Polling has indicated that many voters would have picked a different candidate had they been aware of the laptop’s contents, which included information suggesting President Biden was involved in his son’s overseas business dealings, contrary to his repeated denials.

Another was suppression of reporting or expression of opinion that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese regime lab in Wuhan.

The third example was online suppression of facts and opinions about COVID-19 vaccines “that might lead people to become ‘hesitant’ about COVID vaccine mandates, again depriving Americans of information and opinions on matters of the highest public importance.”

In his order, Judge Doughty found that Mr. Kennedy and the other plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits that the defendants colluded to influence the actions of private social media companies “by ‘insinuating’ themselves into the social-media companies’ private affairs and blurring the line between public and private action.”

He also sided with the complaint in determining that the Biden administration’s actions represented a “substantial risk of harm” to Mr. Kennedy and the other plaintiffs.

“And it is certainly likely that Defendants could use their power over millions of people to suppress alternative views or moderate content that they do not agree with in the upcoming 2024 national election,” Judge Doughty wrote.

He said that Mr. Kennedy has proven that the Biden administration has shown “willingness to coerce” or at least give significant encouragement to social media companies to suppress free speech with regard to COVID-19 vaccines, national elections, gas prices, climate change, gender, and abortion.

In July 2023, Judge Doughty also granted an injunction in the Missouri v. Biden case, which is now pending before the Supreme Court.

More than 50 officials in the Biden administration across a dozen agencies were involved in efforts to pressure big tech companies to censor alleged misinformation, according to documents released in 2022.

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