(The Hill) — A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request from Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to temporarily bar Google from removing videos of him from YouTube based on its medical misinformation policies.
U.S. District Judge Trina Thompson found that Kennedy’s case against Google and its subsidiary YouTube is unlikely to succeed because the companies are not state actors and, as a result, can’t be held responsible for abridging his speech.
Kennedy is suing over YouTube’s removal of several videos of him discussing vaccines based on its policies related to COVID-19 medical misinformation and vaccine misinformation. The long-shot challenger to President Biden, who has attracted vocal criticism over his anti-vaccine rhetoric, did not personally post the videos mentioned in the lawsuit.
Thompson, a Biden appointee, said in Wednesday’s ruling that there is no evidence that the federal government “provided significant encouragement” to Google in such a way that would make the company a state actor.
“There is no evidence before the Court that any of the identified government officials, who are not parties to this case, demanded that Google adopt a COVID-19 medical misinformation or vaccine misinformation policy,” the judge wrote.
“Moreover, there is no evidence before the Court that government officials communicated with Google regarding Kennedy at all,” she added.
Kennedy also failed to show that he has suffered “irreparable harm,” Thompson found, noting that he waited five months from the removal of the first video to take action and was still able to post his content on other sites, such as Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.
The judge also found that the temporary restraining order that Kennedy requested “would not serve the public interest in preventing widespread death and illness.”
Kennedy filed to run for president in April. Though he has garnered low-level support in Democratic polls, the party has roundly criticized him over his positions on vaccines, particularly after remarks surfaced showing him suggesting that the coronavirus was “ethnically targeted.”
“There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” he said in a video published by the New York Post last month. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”