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'Run afoul of the Constitution': Legal scholar unmasks Biden's liability in social media censorship case

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley explained Monday that the Biden administration may have committed unconstitutional acts by encouraging social media censorship of narratives officials don't like.

What is the background?

Last week, a federal judge granted a request to depose top Biden administration officials over allegations they "colluded" or "coerced" social media companies to censor stories related to Hunter Biden, COVID-19, and election integrity.

Federal District Judge Terry Doughty ordered the deposition of 10 officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and FBI supervisory special agent Elvis Chan, among others.

The order comes after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a lawsuit in May alleging the Biden administration ran afoul of the First Amendment.

"After finding documentation of a collusive relationship between the Biden Administration and social media companies to censor free speech, we immediately filed a motion to get these officials under oath," Schmitt said on Friday. "It is high time we shine a light on this censorship enterprise and force these officials to come clean to the American people, and this ruling will allow us to do just that."

What did Turley say?

Speaking on Fox News, the George Washington University law professor explained the plaintiffs "may indeed have a case."

"We have had new evidence released that seemed to confirm what many of us have been writing about for years," Turley said.

"The concern for free speech advocates is that there is a type of censorship by surrogate, that Democratic leaders and other groups have used social media to silence opposing voices, and you've had a number of people who’ve been banned on social media or had tweets taken down that have been proven correct," he explained.

"Now, what we’ve learned is there was a back channel to companies like Facebook and Twitter coming from agencies and they were sort of dropping the dime on people that they wanted to silence," Turley went on to say.

If the government coordinated censorship through back channels in concert with Big Tech companies, such action "could run afoul of the Constitution," Turley said.

"The government is not allowed to do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly," the legal scholar explained.

The Biden administration contend they are not guilty of wrongdoing. But if that is true, then Turley suggested officials should "stop fighting transparency."

"So far, it looks like there is a great deal to see here," he said. "What we're seeing now is more and more evidence that there was censorship by surrogate and that some high-ranking government officials were part of that effort."

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