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Judge denies RFK Jr. restraining order in lawsuit over big tech censorship

 August 25, 2023

A U.S. federal court on Wednesday ruled against the application for a restraining order by Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. against tech giants Google and YouTube.

Kennedy had alleged that these platforms were curtailing his primary campaign against President Joe Biden by restricting his content.

U.S. District Judge Trina Thompson, a 2021 Biden appointee, emphasized in an 11-page decision her belief that Kennedy's request for a preliminary injunction based on First Amendment rights was not valid, as Fox News reported.

The judge noted that platforms like Google and YouTube operate as private establishments, not governmental agencies.

Reasons Behind Content Removal

Google's reasoning for removing three videos of Kennedy from YouTube revolved around its stringent COVID-19 medical and vaccine "misinformation" protocols.

The removed content included Kennedy's speech at New Hampshire's Saint Anselm College, his conversation with podcaster Joe Rogan, and his discourse with Jordan Peterson.

In a legal complaint earlier this month, Kennedy sought immediate restoration of the removed videos. He further appealed to prevent Google and YouTube from using similar criteria to pull down his future campaign-related videos, anticipating a surge in his campaign after Labor Day.

Comparison with Previous Legal Precedents

Kennedy's legal arguments were bolstered by the case of Missouri v. Biden, in which a federal judge had previously critiqued the Biden administration's interactions with social media platforms concerning First Amendment free speech rights.

However, Judge Thompson clarified that Kennedy's lawsuit targeted private corporations, not the government. She stated that there was no conclusive evidence suggesting that governmental bodies influenced Google's policies on COVID-19 or vaccine misinformation.

Thompson anchored her viewpoint on a Ninth Circuit ruling, which determined that Twitter, currently known as X, utilized its "own independent judgment" when it came to introducing and upholding content moderation standards.

Kennedy's Position and Future Prospects

Addressing Kennedy's concerns, Thompson highlighted that the evidence did not suggest any imminent harm to him or his campaign by Google or YouTube.

She further explained that "a temporary restraining order does not serve the public interest of preventing the spread of illness and medical misinformation."

Thompson also mentioned that Kennedy indicated his ability to share content on Facebook and X, even if it contradicts Google's guidelines.  Additionally, she pointed out that "there are numerous other ways" for Kennedy to disseminate videos expressing his opinions on vaccinations and COVID-19.

Kennedy had previously testified before a House Judiciary Select subcommittee regarding allegations of the Biden administration's purported collaboration with social media platforms to suppress free speech.

It was a topic of heated debate, with Republicans alleging that Democrats attempted to silence Kennedy during the hearing on the same issue.

For its part, Google has dismissed the allegations, labeling Kennedy's lawsuit as "meritless." Company officials stated, "YouTube applies its Community Guidelines independently, transparently, and consistently, regardless of political viewpoint."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 7, when further deliberations on Kennedy's request for a preliminary injunction and the defendant's plea for dismissal will take place.