'The Future of Our Republic Is at Stake' - Missouri AG Schmitt Blisters Biden Administration Over 'Disinformation Governance Board'

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

The Biden Administration’s recent announcement that it was establishing a “Disinformation Governance Board” (DGB) through the Department of Homeland Security has set off a bit of a firestorm. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified to a House committee that the board was being created, at least in part, to combat “disinformation” ahead of the mid-terms.

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Immediately (and rightly), questions were raised as to the purpose and scope of this new “board” — and Nina Jankowicz, who’s been tapped to head it.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt directed a letter to Secretary Mayorkas on Friday, detailing concerns regarding the board’s creation and the potential for infringement on the First Amendment. Schmitt shared the letter via Twitter:

Schmitt has already proven he’s willing and able to take on the Biden Administration. He’s mounted successful challenges to the administration’s suspension of the Remain in Mexico policy, the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, and the proposed lifting of Title 42 immigration restrictions.

Schmitt is currently running for the U.S. Senate to replace Roy Blunt, who is retiring. If he succeeds in that bid, he’ll join Missouri’s other sitting senator, Josh Hawley, who also directed a letter to Mayorkas on Thursday, noting:

“I confess, I at first thought this announcement was satire. Surely, no American administration would ever use the power of government to sit in judgment on the First Amendment speech of its own citizens,” Hawley wrote. “Sadly, I was mistaken. Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority. This new board is most certainly unconstitutional and should be dissolved immediately.”

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In his own letter, Schmitt raises several critical points:

This statement should shock the very core of the American belief system, a threat to free speech that will rightly alarm freedom-loving people Across America, including those in my home state of Missouri. This is because we know instinctively that shadowy government programs that promise protection from the “bogeyman” are in reality, clumsy attempts by deep-staters to slowly steal our liberties and invade our privacy step by step, while hoping we don’t notice. We are noticing.

Remarkably, the Biden Administration seems to believe it has both the wisdom and the authority to tell citizens what is true and what is false and what to believe and not believe. In what might well have been written as a response to DHS‘s Orwellian announcement, the United States Supreme Court has clearly spoken on this subject, proclaiming that, “Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need Oceania‘s Ministry of Truth.” United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709, 723 (2012) (per curiam) (citing G. Orwell, Ninteen Eighty-Four (1949) (Centennial ed. 2003)).

Here in the “Show Me” State of Missouri, we have a reputation for being suspicious of big-government bureaucrats offering to “help” – especially when they ask us to give up a bit of our “essential liberty” in exchange for their “paid protection.” There are very good reasons for our skepticism, not the least of which is that yesterday‘s “misinformation” often becomes tomorrow’s established fact. It isn’t hard to find examples of this right in front of our noses.

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Attorney General Schmitt then identifies several notable — and recent — examples of this phenomenon, including the lab-leak theory regarding COVID-19 and the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story immediately prior to the 2020 election.

Schmitt further expounds:

In fact, the Biden administration frequently applies terms like “misinformation” and “disinformation,” not based on actual truth or falsity, but based on their preferred political narrative. This is resulted, again and again, in the suppression of truth and has given the American people good reason to look askance at the government‘s efforts to control what we hear and read, the personal conclusions we come to about what is true and false and what we believe. This is frightening and extremely dangerous. We are thinking people. We needn’t have Big Government’s “help” in deciding what we think is true.

There is already a clear way to address false and misleading speech while we’re respecting the rights of each and every citizen. It is called “more speech,” and it is enshrined in the First Amendment, the beating heart of our Constitution. “Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse. These ends are not well-served when the government seeks to orchestrate public discussion through content-based mandates.” Alvarez, 567 U.S. at 728.

Schmitt sums it up well when he says:

The people of this country are a free people who believe in and practice self-government. We revere our flag, and we respect the rule of law. We also understand that our rights, including the right to free speech, our God-given, not given by a king or queen or even a Disinformation Governance Board. So if you continue to try and trample on our free speech rights under the false banner of “disinformation,” on behalf of the citizens of the State of Missouri, I will fight this government overreach every single step of the way. The future of our Republic is at stake.

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“The future of our Republic is at stake.” That isn’t idle rhetoric. The principles enshrined in our First Amendment are the bedrock of our freedom and autonomy. We cannot brook a government that blithely dismisses them as expendable, quaint notions.

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