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Judge Won't Order Senator to Retract Letter About Chelsea Green Book


  • Courtesy Of Valley News/Sarah Priestap
  • Margo Baldwin in 2014

A Seattle judge has denied White River Junction-based publisher Chelsea Green’s request to compel Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to retract a letter that cited one of its books as a source of COVID-19 misinformation.

In September, Warren called on Amazon executives to modify the site’s algorithms to limit the visibility of books that the senator said advance false or misleading claims about the pandemic, including Chelsea Green title The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal. The bestselling book, co-authored by Florida osteopath Joseph Mercola and Organic Consumers Association founder Ronnie Cummins, espouses the conspiracy theory that the pandemic was “pre-planned” by a cabal of global elites to “facilitate and hide the transfer of wealth to unelected technocrats who control the pandemic narrative, while simultaneously justifying the erosion of your personal freedoms and civil liberties."

The book also suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are more lethal than the virus itself, and that vitamins C and D can effectively prevent and treat severe COVID-19 infections, a claim for which Mercola was previously sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration.

In her letter to Amazon, Warren condemned the online retailer's promotion of The Truth About COVID-19 as “an unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful course of action.”

Chelsea Green, Mercola and Cummins, along with anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who wrote the book’s foreword, sued Warren in federal court in November, claiming that her letter to Amazon constituted an attempt at censorship and a violation of the First Amendment. The following month, they sought a preliminary injunction ordering Warren to retract the letter.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein declined to issue the injunction.

“The threat of legal sanctions can act as an unlawful restriction on speech, but a threat will only be perceived as such if there is a realistic chance the threatened action can be carried out,” Rothstein wrote. As a senator, Rothstein wrote, Warren is “far removed from the power to legally punish booksellers for continuing to sell The Truth About COVID-19.”

Margo Baldwin, co-founder and publisher of Chelsea Green, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Truth About COVID-19 still appears as one of the top results in an Amazon search for the term “COVID-19."

The lawsuit, meanwhile, is still pending.

Read the judge's order below: