A federal court judge on Tuesday barred multiple federal departments and federal officials from contacting social media companies to remove content the judge said is protected by the First Amendment.

The order from U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana bans numerous federal agencies — including the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State and senior officials including Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre — from telling social media companies to remove posts.

The order said that everyone in the almost-three-page-long list of names and agencies is banned from “meeting with social-media companies for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social media platforms.”

They were also barred from “specifically flagging content or posts on social media platforms and/or forwarding such to social-media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech,” said Doughty, who was nominated to the bench by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.

His order also banned those parties from “collaborating, coordinating, partnering, switchboarding, and/or jointly working with the Election Integrity Partnership, the Virality Project, the Stanford Internet Observatory, or any like project or group for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content posted with social-media companies containing protected free speech.”

The order followed a ruling in which Doughty slammed the Biden administration for censorship.

“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,’” he wrote.


In giving the plaintiffs in the case, who include scientists, media outlets and the states of Missouri and Louisiana, a temporary injunction through his order, Doughty said they were “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,” the judge wrote.

“It is quite telling that each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature. This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech,” he said.

Doughty observed that the “explosion of social media platforms has resulted in unique free speech issues — this is especially true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.”

“In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” he wrote.

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