FIRST ON FOX: Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul plans to introduce a bill to protect Americans from the Biden administration violating their First Amendment rights.
Fox News Digital has learned that Paul is expected to propose the Free Speech Protection Act on Tuesday, which would impose harsh penalties on federal employees and contractors who leverage their positions to attack speech protected under the First Amendment.
The bill would empower American citizens to sue the government and executive branch officials who violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, according to Paul’s office.
‘Under my Free Speech Protection Act, the government will no longer be able to cloak itself in secrecy to undermine the First Amendment rights of Americans,’ Paul told Fox News Digital.
Paul’s office said the Free Speech Protection Act would mandate the frequent publication of and public access to reports on communications between an executive branch agency and a content provider. It bars agencies from using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions to stop the disclosure of illegal communications.
Paul’s bill also makes sure federal grant money does not go to entities that seek to label media outlets as sources of disinformation or misinformation, and ends several authorities and programs that the senator’s office says threaten Americans’ constitutional rights.
The Kentucky senator plans to introduce the bill on Tuesday. Paul touched on crafting the bill in an interview with Fox News’ Jesse Watters last month.
Paul’s bill comes after a U.S. District Court judge is temporarily preventing White House officials from meeting with tech companies about social media censorship, arguing that such actions in the past were likely First Amendment violations.
The Tuesday injunction by Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty was in response to recent lawsuits from Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general. The suits allege that the White House coerced or ‘significantly encourage[d]’ tech companies to suppress free speech during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doughty is barring several federal officials and agencies – including some of President Biden’s Cabinet members and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – from contacting social media companies in efforts to suppress speech.
Google, Meta and Twitter were all named in the lawsuits.
The injunction, which was obtained by Fox News, states that the government’s actions ‘likely violate the Free Speech Clause’ and that the court ‘is not persuaded by Defendants’ arguments,’ dealing a significant blow to the White House.
‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’’ Doughty wrote.
‘If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,’ the injunction adds. ‘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 injunction also claims that ‘the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech’ but that issues the case raises are ‘beyond party lines.’
‘Viewpoint discrimination is an especially egregious form of content discrimination,’ Doughty wrote. ‘The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.’
Fox News Digital’s Andrea Vacchiano contributed reporting.