A federal judge has handed the Biden administration another defeat, this time in a case involving communication with social media companies.
The Daily Wire reports that Chief U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, a Trump appointee, issued an injunction that forbids administration officials from communicating with social media firms in what appears to be a major First Amendment win.
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), a former state attorney general, filed the complaint, alleging that government officials made efforts to exert unwarranted influence over these platforms, which he said resulted in the stifling of view that diverged from the administration’s views.
“White House officials, CDC & others are stopped cold. We need to continue the fight to take down the Vast Censorship Enterprise,” Schmitt tweeted following the decision. “Their view of ‘misinformation’ isn’t an excuse to censor. This is the most important free speech case in a generation. Freedom is on the march.”
Schmitt filed the case when he served as Missouri’s attorney general before he was elected to the Senate last year.
“White House officials, CDC & others are stopped cold. We need to continue the fight to take down the Vast Censorship Enterprise. Their view of ‘misinformation’ isn’t an excuse to censor. This is the most important free speech case in a generation. Freedom is on the march,” Schmitt said, calling the decision a “[b]ig win for the First Amendment on this Independence Day.”
There are some exceptions that Doughty allowed. The Washington Post reported he will allow for government officials to have contact with social media companies to inform them of posts involving “criminal activity or criminal conspiracies,” “national security threats, extortion, or other threats,” and crimes related to U.S. elections.
Resist the Mainstream added:
Many expect the ruling to disrupt years of collaboration between tech companies and the government, especially in terms of addressing illegal activities and interference in elections.
The injunction applies to various executive agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prohibiting them from pressuring social media platforms into removing, suppressing or reducing the visibility of content protected by the First Amendment.
The Republican attorneys general who joined with Schmitt in the lawsuit argued that frequent government contact with the social media companies constituted violations of the First Amendment, while they also cited concerns over antitrust issues and efforts to revoke the protections provided by Section 230.
As the Justice Department examines the injunction, there has been no official response from Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Twitter regarding the matter. The New York Times implied that Doughty is known for delivering rulings in favor of conservative causes, which might lead to an appeal of his ruling.
Last winter, Twitter began releasing several batches of internal communications known collectively as the “Twitter Files,” revealing how many contacts a number of federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, regularly had with the platform.
The contract included demands for censoring content related to elections, Hunter Biden’s damning laptop, and other supposedly taboo topics leading up to the 2020 election.