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"No way are we going to let them get away with suppressing our views," Public Citizen president Robert Weissman declared in an email to supporters. (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

'Blatant Violation of the First Amendment': Public Citizen Sues Betsy DeVos for Censoring Its Website

"We've been highly critical of Betsy DeVos for putting students at the mercy of predatory for-profit colleges. We won't let her silence us."

Jake Johnson

Public Citizen sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday for allegedly blocking access to the consumer group's website on her department's guest Wi-Fi and internal networks.

"No way are we going to let them get away with suppressing our views."
—Robert Weissman, Public Citizen

"This is a blatant violation of the First Amendment," Public Citizen president Robert Weissman wrote in an email to supporters. "Users attempting to access Public Citizen's website though the department's guest wireless networks receive a message that access is 'in violation of your internet usage policy.' We requested the department's policy for blocking access to internet sites, but it hasn't responded to our request."

"What we do know," Weissman continued, "is that our website contains lots of information critical of DeVos and the department."

Public Citizen filed its complaint (pdf) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of David Halperin, a Public Citizen board member who frequently attends meetings at the Department of Education and uses its Wi-Fi network.

The organization's filing alleges that the Department of Education is violating both the First Amendment and the Administrative Procedure Act by blocking access to its website.

"The department and DeVos have no legitimate justification for blocking access to Public Citizen's website," the group said in a press release. "Public Citizen's website includes material on a wide range of issues, including information critical of the department and DeVos... Public Citizen also uses its website to inform the public about litigation, including litigation involving DeVos and the department."

Public Citizen is seeking "a court order declaring the department's and DeVos's action unlawful and enjoining them from blocking access" to its site.

"No way are we going to let them get away with suppressing our views," Weissman said.


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That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

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