A federal judge on Tuesday prohibited officials of the Biden administration, and several federal agencies, from working with social media companies on “protected speech.” The decision was called “a blow to censorship” by one of the Republican officials who brought the lawsuit.
Trump appointed judge, Terry A. Doughty said that “during the COVID 19 pandemic… the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’.”
The 2022 lawsuit brought by attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, alleged that the federal government overstepped by convincing social media companies to intervene in postings that could potentially result in vaccine hesitancy or effect election results during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in censorship of mainly conservative voices.
The attorneys general said the government’s actions amount to “the most egregious violations of the First Amendment in the history of the United States of America.”
Attorney General of Missouri, Eric Schmitt wrote on Twitter, “Big win for the First Amendment on this Independence Day. I’m proud to have led the fight.”
Doughty ruled that the states “have produced evidence of a massive effort by defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
Several government agencies are listed in the ruling, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI, that are now prohibited by the injunction from discussions with social media companies aimed at “encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
Agencies and officials can no longer flag specific posts to social media platforms or request content to be taken down.
Judge Doughty allowed exceptions for communications in the case of criminal activity, voter suppression and national security threats.