On Tuesday, the Christian satire website Babylon Bee filed a lawsuit to block the state of California from implementing and enforcing a law that would allow the state to censor online content.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Bee is part of a broader coalition that is suing California over AB 587, a law passed in 2022 which forces social media companies to report certain content for “hate speech” and “disinformation” to the California government. The plaintiffs declared the law to be nothing more than a “vehicle” for the ruling California Democratic Party to shut down their political opposition.
“Those who wield power in the Golden State have been candid about their displeasure with the speech being published on social media platforms,” the lawsuit declares. “California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta have both expressed a desire to use state power to chill speech they do not approve of, constitutionally protected expression they refer to with derogatory labels like ‘disinformation,’ ‘hate speech,’ and ‘extremism.’”
When signing the bill into law in September, Governor Newsom (D-Calif.) explicitly said that “California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country.”
The Babylon Bee is joined in its lawsuit by the alternative social media platform Minds, as well as podcast host Tim Pool. AB 587 was previously opposed back when it was still a bill by other free speech advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the bill a violation of the First Amendment. The bill was supported by far-left groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
A defeat for AB 587 would mark only the latest setback in Governor Newsom’s efforts to crack down on his political opposition. In January, U.S. District Judge William Shubb blocked another California law which allowed the state to target doctors who spread “misinformation” or “disinformation” about the Chinese Coronavirus and the subsequent COVID-19 vaccines; in his ruling, Judge Shubb described the law as “unconstitutionally vague.”