OAN’s Noah Herring
10:59 AM – Wednesday, July 5, 2023
A Trump-appointed judge prohibited several federal agencies and officials of the Biden administration from working with social media companies to censor First amendment-protected free speech on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana ruled that Biden administration officials overstepped in its efforts to convince social media companies to censor posts that could result in vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic or that it could affect elections. The lawsuit was brought forward by the attorneys general (AGs) of Missouri and Louisiana in 2022.
The ruling halts a number of federal agencies and officials from “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech” on social media.
It also restrains officials from “threatening, pressuring, or coercing social media companies in any manner” to suppress what they deem “disinformation” protected as free speech.
Doughty cited that there was “substantial evidence” of a censorship campaign from the Biden administration, claiming that the “evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Doubt said.
U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), who was the Missouri attorney general at the time of the lawsuit, said that the ruling was a “huge win for the First Amendment and a blow to censorship.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said that the ruling prevents the Biden administration from “censoring the core political speech of ordinary Americans.”
“The evidence in our case is shocking and offensive with senior federal officials deciding that they could dictate what Americans can and cannot say on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms about COVID-19, elections, criticism of the government, and more,” Landry said.
An anonymous White House official who was not allowed to discuss the case publicly stated that the Justice Department is reviewing the injunction “and will evaluate its options in this case.”
“This administration has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections,” the anonymous official said. “Our consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people, but make independent choices about the information they present.”
The ruling specifically listed several government agencies including the Department of Health, Human Services, and the FBI. Several officials were named as well including Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, and Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
Several exceptions were allowed by Doughty like informing social media companies of posts involving criminal activity and conspiracies, as well as notifying the companies of national security threats posted on their platforms.
The lawsuit also touched on censoring topics about election integrity and information regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Administration lawyers denied coercing with social media companies claiming that they left it up to them to decide what constituted misinformation and how to combat it.
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