In a precedent-setting ruling, a federal judge partially sustained an injunction prohibiting various Biden administration officials and government agencies, such as the Justice Department and FBI, from collaborating with major digital companies to censor social media content.
An injunction was issued in response to a censorship-by-proxy complaint filed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri, who alleged that representatives of the Biden administration and other government organizations exerted pressure on social media companies to ban accounts or remove content.
Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled on July 4 (pdf) that several government agencies, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. State Department, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are prohibited from taking various actions against social media companies.
The injunction specifies that agencies and their employees are not permitted to meet with or communicate with social media companies “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
The injunction specifically states that the agencies and their employees are not allowed to meet or communicate with social media companies “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
It is also prohibited for the authorities to identify objectionable content in social media posts and report it to the companies with demands for action, such as removing or otherwise reducing its reach.
Also prohibited is encouraging or otherwise pressuring social media companies to change their policies regarding the deletion, reduction, or limitation of content constituting legally protected free expression.
“This could be arguably one of the most important First Amendment cases in modern history,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, one of the plaintiffs, told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” in an interview following the ruling.
“If you look at the opinion that the judge lays out, he takes from our argument that this is basically one of the most massive undertakings of the federal government to limit American speech in the history of our country. The things that we uncovered, in this case, should be both shocking, appalling, and concerning for all Americans.”
The ruling was written by Doughty, a Trump appointment, who stated that the Republican attorneys general who brought the lawsuit against the Biden administration “have produced evidence of a massive effort by Defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
Even though the judge’s decision is not definitive, the preliminary injunction is a victory for the Republican attorneys general, who have accused the Biden administration of pressuring key tech companies to participate in a proxy censorship system.
“I think that this injunction today certainly begins curtailing government action, and telling social media companies what they can and cannot allow on their platforms,” Landry said.
The judge wrote in an accompanying memorandum that the plaintiffs are “likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the Government has used its power to silence the opposition.”
“Opposition to COVID-19 vaccines; opposition to COVID-19 masking and lockdowns; opposition to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; opposition to President Biden’s policies; statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true; and opposition to policies of the government officials in power. All were suppressed,” Doughty wrote.
Landry provided examples of the Biden administration’s use of censorship by proxy, citing email exchanges between senior White House officials and social media sites that specifically targeted candidates for public office, such as Robert Kennedy Jr. and media personality Tucker Carlson, “directly targeting them and asking those social media platforms to take their content down.”
“There are a number of things that as we uncovered information in the discovery process of this case, that was shocking to us, all of that was presented to this judge,” Landry said. “And that’s what I think was compelling him to eventually do what he did today, which is to order and give us the injunction.”
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
Andrew Bailey, the attorney general of Missouri, also praised the verdict in a string of social media posts. CONTINUE READING…