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Biden administration to appeal federal ruling that prevents it from pressuring social media companies to censor wrongthink, cure narratives
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Biden administration to appeal federal ruling that prevents it from pressuring social media companies to censor wrongthink, cure narratives

The Biden administration appears unwilling to relinquish its well-worn ability to pressure social media companies to censor "protected free speech" and cure narratives on their platforms.

The Biden Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday regarding U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty's Tuesday preliminary injunction, which acknowledged that the plaintiffs — the states of Missouri and Louisiana, Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, and several other doctors — were "likely to succeed on the merits on their claim that the United States Government, through the White House and numerous federal agencies, pressured and encouraged social-media companies to suppress free speech."

The injunction

Doughty, a Trump appointee, barred Biden administration officials in the FBI, DOJ, White House, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and State Department from engaging social media companies regarding "any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms."

Under the order, these and other federal agencies are still permitted to contact social media companies about national security threats, malicious cyber activities, threats to public safety and security, and criminal activity, reported UPI.

The judge noted that the Biden administration had "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," wrote Doughty. "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. American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country."

Doughty, who strove to block various Biden mandates during the pandemic, minced no words in his 155-page ruling, claiming "the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth."

The response and immediate impact

Ahead of the notice of appeal, the White House indicated the DOJ was "reviewing the court's injunction and will evaluate its options in this case."

The White House told CNN in a statement, "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. 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."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre similarly indicated the DOJ was "reviewing this" and that the Biden White House disagrees with Doughty's decision.

Former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth, who likened members of the Trump administration to Nazis, embraced the descriptor "custodians of the internet," and claimed the "work of online sanitation is unrelenting and contentious," similarly denounced the injunction, claiming it "will make us less secure going into the 2024 elections."

Roth reportedly colluded with the FBI at Twitter ahead of the 2020 election, championed the censorship of views he disagreed with, and was involved in both suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story and banning Trump from the platform.

TheBlaze previously reported that Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey called the injunction a "huge win in the fight to defend our most fundamental freedoms. ... But we're not done yet. We're just getting started."

The injunction appears also to have had an immediate impact beyond eliciting praise and condemnation.

The Washington Post revealed that the injunction disrupted the federal government's entanglements with social media companies of great import.

The State Department reportedly canceled its regular meeting Wednesday with Facebook officials to discuss 2024 election preparations. One department official allegedly told the social media giant that all future meetings had similarly been "canceled pending further guidance."

The Post's source at Facebook suggested the federal agency likely canceled similar meetings with other tech companies.

The appeal

Politico reported that the DOJ's notice of appeal, filed Wednesday by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton and Federal Programs Branch Special Counsel Joshua Gardner, will send Doughty's opinion and the corresponding injunction to the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for review — unless Doughty grants the DOJ a stay of his order.

According to the Guardian, the Fifth Circuit Court is "one of the most conservative – and influential – courts in America," thanks in part to former President Donald Trump's six appointments. While ostensibly not hostile, the appeals court has ruled against Doughty on a number of previous disputes.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a tenured professor of medicine at Stanford University and co-author of "The Great Barrington Declaration," responded to the government's attempt to overcome the injunction, writing, "An administration committed to the 1st amendment would dismantle the Ministry of Truth in response to the Louisiana court's findings. It would stop telling social media companies who and what to censor. Instead, the Biden Administration is appealing so it can keep censoring."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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