Judge Won't Force YouTube To Restore RFK Jr.'s Anti-Vax Videos

For the second time this year, a federal judge has rejected Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s effort to force YouTube to host videos of his anti-vaccine speeches.

In a decision issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Trina Thompson in the Northern District of California rejected Kennedy's claim that YouTube violated the First Amendment by removing videos in which he made controversial statements about vaccinations.

“The court finds that the plaintiff does not allege any deprivation of rights caused by state action, and the First Amendment claim fails as to Google as Google has not been established as a state actor,” Thompson wrote in a short statement posted Tuesday to the docket.

The First Amendment generally prohibits the government from suppressing speech but doesn't prevent private companies from doing so unless they're considered “state actors,” meaning equivalent to the government.



In September, Thompson rejected Kennedy's request for an emergency order that would have forced YouTube to host the videos -- including clips of him being interviewed by podcast hosts Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan. Kennedy attempted to appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court turned him away due to procedural rules.

Thompson's new ruling came in response to Kennedy's motion for a preliminary injunction, and can be appealed to the circuit court.

Lawyers for Kennedy, who plans to run for president as an independent next year, argued that YouTube should be considered a “state actor” because its medical misinformation policy allegedly “looks entirely to government sources to determine what information gets removed from YouTube.”

Specifically, his attorneys contended that YouTube's policy is tied to guidance from the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

“The misinformation policy that Google has used to remove Kennedy’s speech from YouTube relies entirely on the government to decide what speech is false, misleading, or dangerous,” counsel argued in a motion filed in September.

They added that Google's moves have had a “huge impact” on Kennedy's presidential campaign.

“YouTube has become an important platform for political campaigns, especially when it comes to raw content like candidate interviews and speeches,” they wrote.

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