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GROVE: Accountability in Higher Education

“There is only one solution: Intifada revolution.” Imagine being a Jewish student at the University of Pennsylvania and hearing this chant around campus.

This isn’t a plea for peace, a cease-fire, or even a two-state solution.  It’s full-throated support of a terrorist organization, Hamas, and their goal of Jewish genocide.

Imagine then, just a short time later, the President of the college you attend says of calling for the genocide of Jews – and make no mistake, “There is only one solution: Intifada revolution” is a call for genocide – “if the speech turns into conduct, it can become harassment.”

According to CBS News, one student from Penn said: “I could not believe what I was hearing from Liz Magill and refusing to say that Jewish genocide constitutes harassment. It’s been very difficult to be a Jewish student and seeing peers and university leaders turning their backs on us.”

House Republicans are willing to lead not just with words but with action.  I, along with others, called for the resignation of President Magill after her horrific Congressional testimony.  I was pleased to see Magill’s resignation, but we cannot stop there.

At this time, given the current environment at the University of Pennsylvania, I am unwilling to provide a penny of state money to Penn.

This process started when the House returned to session this December.  House Democrats brought up funding for the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, which requires a 2/3 affirmative vote to pass.  Enough Republicans held the line and blocked the funding.

Unfortunately, antisemitism has been allowed to percolate at Penn for years.  Under the guise of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” events like “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” promoted antisemitic speakers.

Why? The diversity, equity, and inclusion promoted on college campuses doesn’t include pro-Israel speakers (or conservative speakers).

The university proclaimed it will “fiercely support the free exchange of ideas,” adding, “This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”

This is a curious position for Penn to take, given the credible allegations of silencing female swimmers who did not feel comfortable competing with a man.  “The university wanted us to be quiet, and they did it in a very effective way,” Paula Scanlan told the Daily Wire. “They continued to tell us that our opinions were wrong and if we had an issue about it, we were the problem.”

Pennsylvania taxpayers have funded colleges and universities owned and affiliated with the Commonwealth for too long without proper oversight.  Earlier this year, my House Republican colleagues and I withheld funding for Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln until legislation was passed to require greater transparency by further subjecting them to the Right-to-Know Law.

The days of handing blank checks to higher education institutions are over.  We are demanding transparency and a safe campus for ALL students without trampling the First Amendment.

Free Speech is the bedrock of American freedoms.  The selected speech curated on college campuses is incompatible with the First Amendment.

Protestors are free to spew hateful slogans and display despicable signs in public spaces.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”  It’s not the government’s job to police speech.

When that speech crosses the line to harassment, as it has at the University of Pennsylvania, we have an obligation to stop it.  Until Penn steps up and ensures a safe campus, state dollars in any form should be withheld.

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Former Employee Appeals Ruling in Employment Discrimination Case Against Krasner

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is over, a case stemming from it is pending in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

At issue is how far the government can go in restricting employees’ First Amendment exercise of their rights to practice their religion. Previously, a federal judge sided in favor of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and the city in a religious discrimination case brought by Rachel Spivack.

In April 2022, Spivack, now an assistant district attorney in Luzerne County, was fired from her job as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney after she requested a religious exemption from getting the COVID vaccination. While Spivack asked for an exemption because of her Orthodox Jewish faith, others who were union members were not required to get vaccinated because their contract precluded the mandate, a court brief stated.

“Union membership does not guarantee COVID-19 immunity,” the brief noted.

“Religious liberty should not depend on union membership,” said Lea Patterson, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, who argued the case. “The District Attorney disregarded the law by treating those like Rachel who requested religious accommodation less favorably than those who requested accommodation for other reasons. As the Supreme Court has already made clear, the government is not free to disregard the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty in times of crisis.”

After waiting nearly seven months for a response to her request, it was denied, and she was fired. At the same time, 10 unionized employees and one medically exempt non-unionized employee were permitted to continue working without being vaccinated.

“Spivack’s request was denied when Krasner decided to summarily deny all religious exemption or accommodation requests,” the brief said. “Krasner terminated Spivack’s employment as a result, violating the Free Exercise Clause.”

“Krasner denied all religious exemption or accommodation requests because he believed he was not legally required to grant them,” the brief said.

Despite documentation from her rabbi, Krasner found her request to be “not credible,” the brief said.

“The (District Attorney’s Office) DAO Mandate is neither neutral nor generally applicable for four independent reasons: 1) Krasner possessed absolute discretion in granting exemptions to the Mandate; 2) the Mandate did not apply to unionized DAO employees; 3) Krasner granted a medical exemption to the Mandate; 4) Krasner’s decision to deny all religious exemption or accommodation requests derives from religious hostility. Any one of these is sufficient to trigger strict scrutiny.”

Krasner did not respond to a request for comment. However, in his response to Spivack’s appeal, his lawyers said Krasner changed his vaccine policy as medical advice changed and relied on legal counsel and the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which required smallpox vaccinations.

Krasner argued, “The Court should affirm the District Court’s decision granting summary judgment for District Attorney Krasner on Ms. Spivack’s First Amendment claim because there is no genuine issue of material fact that the DAO vaccine mandate is a neutral and generally applicable policy that satisfies rational basis review.”

And “it is also undisputed that the DAO experienced multiple, disruptive COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the pandemic..(describing COVID-19 outbreaks in the municipal court and trial units). In these circumstances, District Attorney Krasner reasonably concluded, based on recommendations of the CDC and the City Health Commissioner, that vaccination is the most effective and least restrictive measure available in light of the medical data and the DAO’s limited resources,” Krasner argued.

Spivack is seeking damages including back pay and attorneys fees in an amount that would be determined by the court, Patterson said.

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

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OPINION: Broadcast Censorship Threatens First Amendment and Sunday Eagles Games

The Federal Communications Commission recently opened public comment on the renewal of the broadcast license for WTXF-TV, a Philadelphia Fox affiliate—better known as Fox 29. Normally such a renewal would be a routine and hum-drum affair without public comment. However, this unusual move is being undertaken thanks to a petition from The Media and Democracy Project, which is asking the FCC to punish the station due to its affiliation with Fox News and controversy about news coverage questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

This attempt to use government regulators to punish the exercise of First Amendment rights is disturbing, short-sighted, and an affront to the people of Philadelphia, the very birthplace of our Constitution.

One of the essential aspects of being a free people is the freedom of the press. It is not surprising that the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights explicitly protects Americans, and the press that serves them, from being silenced by the government. However, without a culture that values and defends these freedoms, the First Amendment becomes little more than ink on some old paper.

The fact that supposedly pro-democracy activists are seeking to weaponize the government to punish people they disagree with, and the fact that the FCC has decided to open the issue to public comment, demonstrates just how fragile our cherished freedoms are. What’s even more unusual in this case, is that the FCC hasn’t even announced how long it will be receiving comments—a procedural omission that lacks transparency. Add in the fact that the complaint is over merely one single hour of programming each week, the Fox News Sunday program carried by Fox 29. It is hard to interpret this move as anything but an attempt to dissuade other broadcast media from airing views with which The Media and Democracy Project, or anyone else able to raise a fuss, disagrees. What’s worse, failing to renew Fox 29’s license would also deprive Philadelphians of the Eagles’ Sunday games.

Beyond being fundamentally anti-American, this attempt to weaponize a regulatory agency to silence the press is extremely short-sighted. Today there is a Democrat president and a Democrat head of the FCC. Eventually there will be a Republican president and a Republican head of the FCC.

Up until now, FCC heads of either party have been explicit that the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license based on the editorial content of the station. In response to calls by then-President Donald Trump to censor media that he disagreed with, the former Republican head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, stated in 2017 that “under the law, the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content…the FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment.” The current head of the FCC, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, has stated that licensing renewals do “not involve the government making editorial decisions about content. Doing so would be an affront to our First Amendment tradition.”

If this bipartisan consensus on regulatory neutrality is lost,  there will be nothing to stop future presidents, of either party, from weaponizing the FCC to punish critics and incentivize favorable press coverage. The Media and Democracy Project may be displeased with Fox, but attempting to take out that displeasure via the government is opening a Pandora’s Box that assures only future strife and the further breakdown of the pro-free speech norms that are at the heart of our republic.

Ultimately, the assumption upon which this complaint rests is perhaps the most insulting and worrisome aspect of this entire ordeal. Complaining that Fox 29 aired falsehoods, and therefore must be punished by the government, is really saying that Philadelphians, viewers in the Delaware Valley, South Jersey and Delaware are too ignorant to look at the evidence and decide for themselves what they think is true and what is false and need guidance from “wise” bureaucrats who obviously know better.

It is a simple fact of life that well-intentioned people will disagree about what is true and what is false. Rational people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions. There are two ways to deal with this disagreement: we can either learn to live together despite our disagreements, or we can attempt to force those who disagree with us to be silent. History is full of attempts at the latter option and none of them have ended well. The First Amendment is America’s declaration that we have learned from this history of violence over deep disagreements and have chosen a different course.

So far, the FCC has withstood attempts by both sides of the political spectrum to punish “the other side,” but the fact that it has opened public comments on what should be a routine license renewal is worrisome.

However, people across the political spectrum who value our hard-won liberties, but especially those in the Philadelphia area, can use this as an opportunity to remind the FCC by commenting on its website that Americans still value free speech, don’t want to further inflame political tensions by turning it into a regulatory cudgel, and that we are more than capable of deciding for ourselves which news station to watch.

America is unique in the extent to which free speech and the press are protected from government censorship. It is only by continuing to be vigilant in defending these hard-won freedoms that we and our descendants can continue to enjoy and make use of them. At the end of the day, Philadelphians care about being home to the Constitution and the watching the Eagles win. The Media and Democracy Project is attacking both.

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Casey Mattox is an attorney specializing in the First Amendment and Vice President of Legal and Judicial Strategy at Americans for Prosperity.


Pennsbury School Board Must Pay $300k for Violating Residents’ Free Speech Rights

The Pennsbury School Board has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought over First Amendment violations. It also agreed to change its policies regarding the treatment of citizens who want to express their views to officials.

“Rules for public comment periods are meant to maintain time limits and protect each speaker’s right to be heard, not police which viewpoints are expressed. Pennsbury’s rules were so vague and subjective that the board could effectively shut down any speech they didn’t like, and that’s exactly what they did,” said Del Kolde, senior attorney at the Institute for Free Speech.

The lawsuit was filed last October by Lower Makefield residents Douglas Marshall, Simon Campbell, Robert Abrams, and Tim Daly. They were represented by attorneys from the Institute for Free Speech and Michael Gottlieb of Vangrossi & Recchuiti. In addition to the $300,000 for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees, the settlement called for nominal damages of $17.91 to each plaintiff, as a symbolic payment acknowledging that the plaintiffs’ rights were violated.

The amount was chosen because 1791 was the year the First Amendment was ratified.

Neither the former solicitors nor the district’s spokeswoman responded to requests for comment on Friday.

Judge Gene E. K. Pratter

The plaintiffs were censored for attempting to criticize district policies, including efforts to promote contested ideas about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Marshall was once interrupted mere seconds into speaking because the solicitor objected to his use of the term “critical race theory” to describe the district’s initiatives. Critics of the board were cut off for addressing their comments to board members, while other speakers were permitted to directly praise board members and school employees.

A solicitor yelled “You’re done” at one man who was trying to speak to the board.

In addition to the money, the district rewrote its public comment policy to align with the First Amendment and a federal judge’s ruling. It also abolished its “civility” policy and found a new law firm to act as its solicitors. Two of the district’s previous lawyers, Michael P. Clarke and Peter Amuso, were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“School boards across the country should take note. Rules for public comments must respect the First Amendment rights of speakers. If you are limiting which opinions may be shared, you’ll be held liable for violating First Amendment rights,” said Alan Gura, vice president for litigation at the Institute for Free Speech.

The court had ruled in November that several Pennsbury policies governing speech at school board meetings were unconstitutional. Those policies, modeled after a template recommended by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), allowed the meeting’s presiding officer to stop speakers whose comments were deemed “personally directed,” “personal attacks,” “abusive,” “verbally abusive,” “irrelevant,” “disruptive,” “offensive,” “inappropriate,” or “otherwise inappropriate.”

After an evidentiary hearing in Philadelphia, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter found evidence that the board selectively enforced the rules to stifle criticism of its actions and members.

After the injunction was issued, Pennsbury abolished one of the two policies challenged in the lawsuit and rewrote the other to comply with the First Amendment. The court also ruled against a board requirement that speakers publicly announce their home addresses before beginning their remarks. According to a spokesperson for the PSBA, the model policy was reviewed after the court’s ruling.

The abuses in the case, however, went beyond the restrictions on speech recommended by the PSBA, the Institute said in a press release. On one occasion, school board officials edited video of a board meeting to remove a critical comment by one plaintiff. The board president even publicly apologized for not censoring the plaintiffs more aggressively.

Marshall praised the judge and the lawyers who represented the residents.

“I think it was clear that the primary motivation we had in bringing the lawsuit was to protect our constitutional rights as codified in the First Amendment,” said Marshall. “And that’s why the free speech entity agreed to take the case pro bono. They devoted an enormous amount of hours to it.”

The judge’s decision now stands as a precedent that other citizens and school boards can cite, he said.  “I think the judge properly guided us to a settlement (rather than a trial). She did a wonderful job on the case. And most importantly there is precedential value in the opinion she wrote.”


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T/E Parent Wins Release of CRT Documents

Documents released by court order show Tredyffrin/Easttown teachers are learning about Critical Race Theory and how to “transform” the district. However, a lawyer for the school district says the controversial race-based theory is not reaching students.

Parent Ben Auslander contended Tredyffrin/Easttown School District officials violated his First Amendment rights when he tried to take verbal notes on Critical Race Theory (CRT) materials from a vendor.

Auslander, working with America First Legal and Wayne attorney Walter Zimolong, sued the district, winning the release of 166 pages of documents that vendor Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a California-based education consultant supplied to T/E.

PEG claims “systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children.” The district had hired the company to run teacher training and shape the curriculum, according to the America First Legal (AFL) press statement.

Auslander wanted to see the PEG materials. District officials told him he could look at the papers, but he could not take notes or pictures and had to look at the materials at the district office.

When Auslander tried to make a voice recording on his cell phone about what he saw, he was told to leave and officials threatened to call the police, the lawsuit said.

The materials show, “PEG’s ‘training’ of the district staff included exercises on’ walking through the barriers to teaching Critical Race Theory at your school,’ and how ‘Critical Race Theory is a vital step in your School Transformation Action Plan,'” according to AFL.

Kenneth Roos, the district solicitor, denied CRT is taught in the school district but acknowledged it is part of “district staff discussions.”

“To be clear, CRT is not taught in TESD schools,” said Roos. “The district has developed its own initiative related to equity, inclusion, and belonging. The district works with multiple vendors to craft the steps to support our own initiative. In some EIB initiative leadership training (including the ones PEG did), district staff discussed with each other (not students) what CRT is and how it fits into the national context. CRT is not an underpinning of what the district teaching in the classroom, and it is not in the TESD curriculum.”

However, former school board Director Kyle Boyer acknowledged at a public meeting in 2021 the district does use elements of CRT in its curriculum.

Zimolong said the newly-released documents counter claims made by Roos. “His claims could only be true if you ignore what the CRT documents bought and paid for by the school district say. Indeed, page eight of the documents sets forth a ‘School Transformation Plan’ using the teaching of CRT to achieve that transformation. The school district’s comments recall Orwell in ‘1984’ who wrote, ‘[t]he party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.'”

The judge’s decision is “a great outcome if you’re in favor of transparency and knowing what is being taught to your kids in school and you don’t like when any government agency tries to sandbag and cover up from a citizen what their tax dollars are being spent on,” said Zimolong.

The litigation is continuing. While obtaining the documents was part of the process, claims regarding how his client was treated by school officials remain to be litigated. Zimolong said officials had violated Auslander’s First Amendment rights by not permitting him to record his thoughts.

Auslander could not be reached for comment.

The next phase of the court case will require depositions from school officials, Zimolong said. After that, there may be a hearing in September or Judge Harvey Bartle III might rule based on the results of the depositions.

For his part, Roos said the district continues to believe the case should be dismissed.

Andrew McClellan, a parent whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, is very unhappy with both the racial and transgender curriculum that he says is being taught in district schools.

“To be honest with you, we’ve known this has been going on for a long time,” said McClellan. “All their transgender promotion and the grooming that they’re doing. They’re sexualizing these kids. It’s all done in secrecy, then they lie to the parents about it…The majority of their policies and curriculum, if you can even call it curriculum, the ideologies, the grooming, it’s all there and they lie to us about it. It’s horrific. How did we get here?”

“It’s been an agenda,” he said. “It’s been a takeover.”

Meanwhile, the AFL lawyers believe these PEG materials illustrate that CRT is being taught in many districts across the country.

“This should forever end all debate. Our innocent children are being viciously indoctrinated with CRT by Marxist radicals. This lawless, extremist, poisonous bigotry must be defeated,” said Stephen Miller AFL president.

AFL Vice-President and General Counsel, Gene Hamilton, said, “These documents establish–once and for all–that CRT is present in public schools across the country. And not only is it present, but it is being funded by taxpayers across this country with hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent in each individual school district.

“The American people do not want their money being spent on these toxic training materials under any circumstance, but especially not while their children attend classes that are overcrowded, their teachers are underpaid, and in school buildings that are in need of repair. Every dollar spent on this nonsense is a dollar wasted,” Hamilton said.

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Parent Claims T/E Violated His First Amendment Rights, Files Lawsuit

A parent filed a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Tuesday claiming the district violated his First Amendment rights.

Ben Auslander says the school district and its business manager, Arthur McDonnell, violated his constitutional rights by ushering him out from a room where he was perusing documents that outline the Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculum the district is using.

Using a Right-to-Know request, Auslander asked for all materials pertaining to Pacific Education Group (PEG), the district’s CRT consultant, the suit said. The district had paid PEG $400,000.

CRT is a controversial and divisive theory being used in the curriculum of many school districts and has brought parents out to school board meetings to object. Parents found out about it when their children had in-home schooling due to the pandemic.

Stemming from Marxist philosophy, CRT teaches children they are oppressors if they are White and victims if they are Black. While many districts have denied they teach CRT when confronted by parents, one former T/E board member, Kyle Boyer, openly admitted it at a board meeting last July.

The district denied Auslander’s request “to provide the records, lessons, and materials, but granted an in-camera (in person) review of the material created by PEG,” the suit said. Auslander began to take verbal notes in a smartphone voice recorder about the voluminous material. When he refused to stop,  McDonnell escorted him out.

“McDonnell threatened to hold (Auslander) liable under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act for recording his own voice,” the suit said. “He also threatened to hold (him) liable under ‘copyright laws.’

“McDonnell also called the school district’s attorney and threatened to call PEG’s attorney,” the suit said. “After Mr. Auslander refused to stop recording his voice, defendant Mr. McDonnell terminated the meeting and ordered (him) to vacate the premises,” the suit said.

Auslander “seeks a preliminary injunction against defendants prohibiting them from interfering with his constitutional right to speak and record his voice while conducting a public records inspection. He also seeks nominal damages.”


T/E student assignment


“School systems across America desperately try to hide from parents the instructional materials developed by highly paid consultants to indoctrinate our children with critical race theory and other biased, partisan materials. In this case, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District was so desperate to keep information from the public that it blatantly violated Mr. Auslander’s First Amendment right to document the instructional materials used to develop curriculum in his child’s school,” said Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel with America First Legal, which filed the lawsuit, along with Villanova lawyer Wally Zimolong.

“We look forward to continuing to stand up for parents like Mr. Auslander and hold school districts accountable that believe that parents surrender their constitutional rights when their children walk through the school doors.”

Kenneth Roos, the T/E solicitor, said Auslander’s First Amendment rights were not violated and that the district was complying with copyright law when officials refused to allow Auslander to make recorded notes about PEG materials.

“The fact is, it was copyrighted and Mr. Auslander was told what the restrictions would be and we followed the restrictions that were laid out by the Office of Open Records,” said Roos. “He was given certain ground rules to follow and he wouldn’t follow those ground rules.”

The district is required to protect the copyright held by PEG, he said.

“Whatever the district did was to protect the copyright. It had nothing to do with the content of materials,” said Roos. “It could have been anything.”

Delaware Valley Journal asked Roos whether Auslander’s First Amendment rights trump copyright law.

“The First Amendment is his right to speech,” said Roos. “It’s not his right to look at a document and make a verbatim oral transcript of it. He had a right to review documents under certain conditions. There’s nothing in the First Amendment that gave him the right to review those documents. The right to review the documents came under the Open Records Act.”

Parent Andrew McClellan, whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, said T/E officials are also paying PEG to train teachers and other staff in CRT. Numerous parents have spoken out at school board meetings against the CRT curriculum, yet the district continues to use it, he said.

“We literally had to get a lawyer to look at the curriculum,” said McClellan, regarding Auslander’s ordeal.

“All of these people from the White House to the school board work for us,” said McClellan. “They have forgotten that. I’m doing my best to remind them.”

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YouTube Reinstates Pennsylvania Republican Governor Candidates Forum

YouTube has admitted it made a mistake when it pulled the video of a  Republican gubernatorial candidates’ forum sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute and held recently at Cairn University in Langhorne.

“When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer the uploader the ability to appeal removals, and upon review of the Pennsylvania Family Council’s appeal, we reinstated this video,” said Ivy Choi, a spokeswoman for YouTube.

Michael Geer, president and CEO of the Institute, is happy the video is back up but says is also disturbed it was removed in the first place and remained missing for three days.

Geer says he believes public pressure from the Delaware Valley Journal and other sources may have helped sway YouTube. But, he noted, social media such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have become the public square and speech exercised there should fall under First Amendment protections, even though the entities are owned by private companies.

“The marketplace of ideas has shifted to the social media realm,” said Geer. “And social media companies have a special relationship with the government. The government is providing a special framework for them to operate. And if they didn’t provide the level of freedom and First Amendment accountability, something should be done.”

As it is now, social media platforms have “the unfettered ability to take things down that they don’t like.”

“We’re grateful to the candidates, who put it out there in press releases and social media comments, as well as the wrongness of what YouTube did. I think the public outcry and folks like you reporting on it, bringing attention to it, were all very helpful in the restoration of the video.”

Linda Kerns, a Philadelphia lawyer who handles election law cases, said, “I attended the Republican gubernatorial debate and heard a robust discussion of conservative ideas to fix this commonwealth after we have endured the failed policies of a Democrat administration. I imagine the woke ideologues at YouTube realized if people hear what Republicans have to say….they will never vote for a Democrat again. So their answer is censorship.  Thank heavens for Rich Zeoli who publicized this travesty on his radio show and outlets like DVJournal…who write about it.”

Dave White, one of the gubernatorial candidates who participated in the forum, denounced YouTube’s move as “another example of the leftists in Big Tech trying to silence conservatives, specifically traditional values conservatives. Apparently, standing up for the sanctity of human life and defending the rights of young girls who want to play sports is out of bounds for YouTube.”

His fellow GOP candidate Charlie Gerow said it was “an outrage. As soon as they did it, I spoke out forcefully against their attack on free speech. Attempting to silence the voices of the Republican candidates is yet another example of the cancel culture that is ripping us apart.”

At a debate Tuesday night sponsored by the Delaware Valley Journal, Republican candidates for U.S. Senate weighed in.

“The overwhelming majority of our [exercise of] free speech, which is a constitutional right, takes place on social media. So for tech companies to be able to tell people, ‘Shut up, sit down, and do as you’re told,’ doesn’t cut it. We need to be very firm on that,” said Kathy Barnette, a Fox News commentator.

But lawyer Sean Gale was not sure it would be wise for the government to intervene. However, he decried the hypocrisy of companies like Twitter, which banned President Donald Trump.

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YouTube Censors Video of PA Republican Governor’s Forum Hosted By Pro-Family Group

In the latest incident of Big Tech appearing to target Republican politicians, YouTube has pulled down the video of last week’s GOP gubernatorial debate hosted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

“In a stunning and scandalous attack on a fair and free democratic process, today YouTube took down the recorded livestream video of Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum,” the group said in a statement.

The forum drew seven of nine Republican candidates for governor to Cairn University in Langhorne on March 24.

The Delaware Valley Journal covered the two-hour forum, which was also broadcast over Philadelphia radio station WPHT and via live stream.

In a message to the conservative group alerting them of the action Youtube said, “Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our misinformation policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube: [the Gubernatorial Forum Livestream].”

Pennsylvania Family Institute President Michael Geer was outraged by the action. “YouTube offered no specifics of what is alleged to be in violation, beyond indicating that it had to do with content related to the 2020 presidential election,” said Geer, who was a co-moderator of the forum with radio host Rich Zeoli. “That election was not mentioned in our questions, and we can only conclude that the YouTube censors did not like the answers given by one or more of the candidates.”

“This is a blatant assault on free speech, free elections, on the ability of candidates to freely state their views,” Gree continued, “and on the right of citizens to hear the varied perspectives of those who are seeking their votes. It hinders the process of democracy, shuts down the free marketplace of ideas, and ironically, further erodes confidence in our elections.”

Dave White, one of the candidates who participated in the forum, denounced YouTube’s move as “another example of the leftists in Big Tech trying to silence conservatives, specifically traditional values conservatives. Apparently standing up for the sanctity of human life and defending the rights of young girls who want to play sports is out of bounds for YouTube. The beauty of our First Amendment is that it is not simply freedom of speech, but the freedom to exercise that speech, which includes making our voices heard at the ballot box. YouTube may be able to silence us on their platform, but they will not silence us this November.”

In fact, YouTube has not identified the specific content it found objectionable and did not respond to requests for comment from Delaware Valley Journal. Geer said the only input he had was YouTube’s reference to discussions of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

Another candidate, Congressman Lou Barletta, tweeted: “Big Tech is absolutely out of line censoring the @PFIpolicy Gubernatorial Forum from YouTube! I was proud to participate in this forum and discuss the important issues facing PA. Just because Big Tech doesn’t agree with our politics does NOT give them the right to silence us!”

Fellow candidate Charlie Gerow, a GOP consultant, said, “YouTube’s cancellation of the PFI Forum for the Republican candidates for governor is an outrage. As soon as they did it I spoke out forcefully against their attack on free speech. Attempting to silence the voices of the Republican candidates is yet another example of the cancel culture that is ripping us apart. We’re fighting back and won’t allow ourselves to be silenced, sidelined, or shut down.”

Greer said his organization filed an appeal with YouTube.

“It is clearly a First Amendment issue,” said Greer. “The First Amendment protects free speech, particularly political speech, and YouTube has “squelched it.”


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