On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling that prohibits numerous federal government officials from contacting social media companies.
The appeals court based in New Orleans upheld a decision in Missouri v. Biden, which came down from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in July.
In July, the district judge in the case placed a preliminary injunction prohibiting the defendants, including President Joe Biden, United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and former chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, from contacting social media companies over content it believes to be misinformation.
“The Fifth Circuit has upheld the district court’s order in our free speech case, Missouri v. Biden, enjoining the White House, Surgeon General, CDC, & FBI from violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey posted on X on Friday, adding in a follow-up post, “The First Amendment remains intact.”
Missouri v. Biden was originally filed by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) when he was still the attorney general of Missouri. The suit alleges that the federal government was influencing social media companies to censor users on multiple platforms, trampling their First Amendment right to free speech.
“COVID was the Trojan horse that got the enemy behind the gate,” Bailey said in an interview with The Center Square. “But we have every reason to believe that the censorship enterprise has grown so rapidly that the federal government had to develop a new bureaucratic apparatus to manage the censorship. And it spread to topics beyond COVID.”
Bailey, who was appointed to the position in 2023, said in mid-August that the lawsuit could change the marketplace of social media companies.
“I think we’ve got to build a wall of separation between tech and state,” Bailey said. “That’s the very purpose of this lawsuit. The wall of separation is needed now more than ever as we move into an election cycle.”