A federal appeals court judge compared the Biden administration’s relationship with Big Tech to the mob during oral arguments Thursday for the major censorship case Missouri v. Biden.
The Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments Thursday to consider the Biden administration’s appeal of a district court judge’s injunction barring the federal government from communicating with social media for the purposes of censoring protected speech. The three-judge panel pushed back on DOJ lawyer Daniel Tenny’s claim that the Biden administration had a “back and forth” relationship with social media companies that did not involve coercion, with one judge drawing an analogy between the government’s actions and how the mob operates.
“In these movies that we see with the mob … they don’t say and spell out things, but they have these ongoing relationships,” said Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee. “They never actually say ‘go do this or else you’re going to have this consequence.’ But everybody just knows.”
“I’m certainly not equating the federal government with anybody in illegal organized crime but there are certain relationships that people know things without always saying the ‘or else,'” she continued. (RELATED: Here’s What A Federal Judge’s Blocking Of Biden Admin Censorship Efforts Signals For The First Amendment Going Forward)
Earlier, Elrod said the administration had a “very close working relationship” with companies that was like “a supervisor complaining about a worker.”
“What appears to be in the record are these irate messages from time to time from high ranking government officials that say, ‘You didn’t do this yet!’ — and that’s my toning down the language— ‘Why haven’t you done this yet?'” she said. “It’s like ‘jump’ and ‘how high?'”
The other judges, Edith Brown Clement, a George H. W. Bush appointee, and Don R. Willett, a Trump appointee, also appeared skeptical of the government’s claims.
Willett said the government operated “out of the public eye” through “unsubtle strong-arming and veiled or not-so-veiled threats.”
“That’s a really nice social media platform you’ve got there, it would be a shame if something happened to it,” he summarized.
The Biden administration appealed the injunction issued by Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty to the Fifth Circuit on July 5, the day after it was issued. The Fifth Circuit issued a temporary stay on injunction July 14 “until further orders” of the court.
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