Natelson – Administration and Facebook Violated 1st Amendment
There was a spirited conversation on Monday’s Talk Back show about whether the Biden Administration deliberately colluded with Facebook to get messages from private citizens deleted because they were deemed to be providing what were termed false information about COVID vaccines.
KGVO reached out to Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson with the Independence Institute in Denver about the constitutionality of the administration’s actions.
“It is a violation of the First Amendment,” said Natelson. “There have been a number of cases where purportedly private companies acting in concert with the government have violated individual rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court has said that in that circumstance, the bad conduct is attributable to the government and is a constitutional violation.”
Natelson said saying that Facebook is a private company is only half the story.
“A good example where a number of cases were in some states, including, by the way, Delaware, the President's home state, where governmental entities had used purportedly private companies to discriminate against African Americans,” he said. The administration then had said, well, there's not a 14th Amendment issue because it's a private company. Well, the Supreme Court said, sorry, if you're that entangled with a private company, if you're engaged in a joint venture to violate somebody's constitutional rights, then that conduct is attributable to the government. You cannot hide behind the private company when you're doing that.”
The reason used by the Biden Administration’s press secretary for removing the messages was that the incorrect advice could place people’s lives at risk.
“Expediency or the public welfare is always the first resort of tyrants, or you can come up with justification for violating almost any constitutional right,” he said. “Or, this is really important or the public welfare has to trump your rights and so forth. This is the way tyrants act, and it is utterly inappropriate for an American presidential administration.”
Natelson then posed this question.
“As a threshold question, the issue occurs to my mind, is if they're doing this on COVID-19, then what other issues are they doing it on?” he asked. “In other words, is the administration telling Facebook not to post notices on the election or other things that it might consider misinformation?”
Natelson spoke to KGVO News while he was in Times Square in New York City preparing to make a speech before a meeting of the Epoch Times, for which he authors a weekly column on Constitutional issues.