Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, has taken legal action against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over censorship of COVID-19 information.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on January 13, 2023, alleges that the HHS failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Judicial Watch on March 3, 2022.
The FOIA request sought to obtain records of any communications between the Surgeon General’s communications director, Alexandria Phillips, and social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
The HHS replied on March 10, 2022, stating that the request was “In Process” but has since failed to release any documents.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has accused Surgeon General Vivek Murthy of “abusing his office to pressure Big Tech companies to censor Americans” and of violating the First Amendment.
Fitton added that the lawsuit “aims to uncover the details of this government attack on the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit calls on the court to order the HHS to comply with the FOIA request, as required by law, and to cover Judicial Watch’s attorney fees and costs.
During the COVID pandemic, Murthy called on social media companies to censor free speech about the virus and vaccines, claiming that it was “misinformation.”