- A federal judge’s injunction against the Biden administration signals that government censorship efforts will not stand up under review, plaintiffs and individuals involved with the free speech lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Doughty’s injunction prevents federal officials, including those in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FBI, from communicating with social media platforms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
- “[People] need to know that their government has a view that they are empowered to curate viewpoints that are consumed by the American public,” New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) Senior Litigation Counsel Zhonette Brown told the DCNF.
A federal judge’s Tuesday preliminary injunction barring the Biden administration from communicating with social media companies to censor protected speech will go a long way towards restoring protections under the First Amendment, those involved with the case told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
While the Biden administration appealed the injunction to the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday, it’s already prompted concrete changes. Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty’s injunction both vindicates the rights of those who have been censored and sends an important message to the federal government, plaintiffs and individuals involved with the free speech lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, told the DCNF.
“The evidence of government collusion with, and coercion of social media companies to censor disfavored speech is overwhelming,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey told the DCNF. “The judge’s order sends a clear message to Biden that censoring speech you don’t like is anathema to our Constitution.”
After the judge issued the injunction, the State Department canceled its Wednesday meeting with Facebook to go over hacking threats and 2024 election preparations, along with all future monthly meetings “pending further guidance,” according to The Washington Post. “Disinformation researchers,” who argue government involvement with social media platforms is not an issue if it doesn’t involve coercion, likewise worry their efforts to reduce “harmful” content like false vaccine or voter fraud claims will be impacted, The New York Times reported. (RELATED: Professional Censors Are Furious That A Federal Court Stopped The Biden Admin From Suppressing Speech)
Yesterday, we obtained an order to HALT what the court described as the Biden administration’s “massive attack against free speech” unseen before in United States history.
⁰Some notable points from the judge’s order in our landmark free speech case, Missouri v. Biden:
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) July 5, 2023
Judge Doughty called the government censorship activities plaintiffs’ revealed “Orwellian.”
New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) Senior Litigation Counsel Zhonette Brown told the DCNF the injunction will make the government “think twice before they provide directives to social media companies.”
NCLA represents three doctors censored for their views on COVID-19 treatments and policies — Jayanta Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and Aaron Kheriaty — who joined the states’ lawsuit.
The injunction is, to some extent, “a validation of the fact that their viewpoints were appropriate and shouldn’t have been censored by the government,” Brown said.
Going forward, it also means they will be protected for continued discussion of these topics, she said.
“The policy of censorship wasn’t limited to one particular topic,” Brown said. “Without the protection of that injunction, you don’t even know which particular viewpoint you’re going to express that the government is going to decide to censor.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in March, including with their motion a 364-page document cataloging instances of alleged censorship uncovered through internal federal government documents they gained access to from the lawsuit.
These included the FBI “deliberately” planting false information in order to convince social media platforms to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “switchboards” that allowed state and local election officials to flag misinformation and Dr. Anthony Fauci inducing companies to censor the lab-leak theory, according to Landry’s news release.
“Although this case is still relatively young, and at this stage the Court is only examining it in terms of Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” Doughty wrote in his opinion. “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.’”
NCLA President Mark Chenoweth said in a statement that the injunction will “help immensely” in ending the Biden administration’s “outrageous assault on the Constitution and on the civil liberties of Americans.”
“The judge’s order was historic and we are confident it will stand.” Bailey said. “We are ready to move immediately into merits discovery and we are confident we will ultimately prevail in this case and the judge’s preliminary order will be made permanent.”
“We are eager to continue litigating the case and will vigorously defend the injunction on appeal,” Landry said in a statement to the DCNF.
Brown said Americans should understand the “breadth and scope of what was going on.”
“[People] need to know that their government has a view that they are empowered to curate viewpoints that are consumed by the American public,” Brown said. “Freedom requires vigilance.”
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