(LifeSiteNews) – The publisher of a book dissenting from the dominant COVID-19 narrative is suing far-left U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for allegedly crossing the line into First Amendment violations with her demands that the book not be sold.
The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing The Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal, written by osteopath Dr. Joseph Mercola and Organic Consumers Association director Ronnie Cummins, was released April 29, 2021. On September 7, Warren wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, alleging that the book “perpetuates dangerous conspiracies about COVID-19 and false and misleading information about vaccines,” yet is promoted as a bestseller in Amazon’s search results.
Reminding Jassy that the retail giant “has removed books trafficking in misinformation from its platform in recent years,” Warren called for an “immediate review of Amazon’s algorithms and, within 14 days, provide both a public report on the extent to which Amazon’s algorithms are directing consumers to books and other products containing COVID-19 misinformation and a plan to modify these algorithms so that they no longer do so.”
In response, the authors, along with Chelsea Green Publishing, have filed a lawsuit against Warren contending that her demands run afoul of government protections for free speech, The Dartmouth reported.
“I do not concede that there is any ‘misinformation’ in the book, but that is irrelevant,” plaintiffs’ attorney Nathan Arnold said. “The content is not the test — if the content is the test, then that eviscerates the First Amendment … I know that the political landscape that we’re all operating in is terribly partisan, but we don’t want unpopular opinions being suppressed by whoever’s in power. It really transcends party politics.”
“Preserving open and free debate is central to our democracy,” Mercola added. “I believe successful treatments for COVID-19 have been suppressed, and there are real conspiracies that have been revealed that are essential to public well-being.”
Warren’s office has yet to publicly respond.
The lawsuit argues that Warren’s letter — which it blames for Barnes & Noble temporarily pulling the eBook version and Amazon allegedly “covertly demoting, downgrading, or otherwise suppressing” it — violates the 1963 precedent Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, in which the Supreme Court ruled that public officials violate the First Amendment when they “sen[d] letters to booksellers warning that the sale of certain named books was potentially unlawful.”
Warren’s letter alleges that Amazon being “either unwilling or unable” to crack down on books like Mercola’s is “unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful,” though the senator does not specify what law the retail giant has allegedly broken.
Some argue that such statements from government officials complicate companies’ presumed status as mere private entities exercising their own speech and property rights by effectively turning them into extensions of the government when they comply. President Joe Biden and his press secretary, Jenn Psaki, directed at social media platforms have similarly badgered social networks to suppress disfavored COVID claims.
In July 2021, author Vivek Ramaswamy made the case in The Wall Street Journal that this argument has a sound basis in Supreme Court precedent that government “may not induce, encourage, or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish” (Norwood v. Harrison, 1973), and that state-issued immunity, threats of prosecution or “adverse regulatory action,” “willful participa[tion] in joint activity,” or even just “significant encouragement” can suffice to turn private censorship decisions into the functional equivalent of state action.