In a significant victory for free speech advocates, a federal judge has issued a temporary injunction prohibiting members of the Biden administration from exerting undue influence over social media companies during a trial involving censorship concerns.
Federal judge limits Biden administration contact with social media sites. pic.twitter.com/To53nb6lHu
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) July 4, 2023
Terry A. Doughty, a judge appointed by former President Donald Trump, is presiding over the case, which has been brought forth by Missouri and Louisiana. The two states are challenging federal efforts to suppress alleged misinformation related to COVID-19 and elections on social media platforms.
Doughty’s ruling emphasized that government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI should refrain from engaging in discussions with social media companies that could potentially lead to “the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
The injunction specifically names high-ranking officials like Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, imposing restrictions on their interactions with social media platforms.
However, the judge, in his ruling, outlined certain exceptions to the restrictions, allowing government officials to communicate with social media companies in cases involving national security threats or criminal activities.
The injunction represents a major win for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and former Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt who initiated the lawsuit, arguing that the Biden administration’s efforts to get social media companies to address posts linked to vaccine hesitancy and potential election disruptions went beyond the bounds of what is acceptable.
In the lawsuit that mirrors concerns voiced by conservatives over the government’s alleged suppression of free speech, the plaintiffs accused the administration of encouraging tech giants to selectively remove viewpoints and speakers deemed politically unfavorable.
As stated by Landry and Schmitt, these actions amount to “the most egregious violations of the First Amendment in the history of the United States of America.”
Schmitt, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last year, expressed his satisfaction with the injunction via Twitter, hailing it as a “huge win for the First Amendment and a blow to censorship.”
Today’s court win is a huge win for the First Amendment and a blow to censorship.
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 4, 2023