4th July Order Limits Biden Officials Contact With Social-Media Companies
The political environment in the United States (U.S.) continues to be rife with controversy leading many Democrats and Republicans to distrust their parties and now there is a new social media case having the potential to further inflame conservatives.
In a recent 155-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana issued a broad preliminary injunction blocking the Biden administration from regulating social media on the grounds that federal officials likely violated the First Amendment by attempting to silence opposing political views and other dialogues usually safeguarded from government censorship.
Not the first of its kind, other suits have been rejected such as lawsuit Trump brought against Twitter when it banned him after the Jan. 6, 2021.
However, this landmark case is unique and focuses primarily on defending citizens’ freedom of speech. The case named the Missouri v. Biden has increased the visibility of how the federal government has allegedly policed content social-media on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and banned them from doing so in the future.
According to Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, the Biden administration led a “federal censorship enterprise” and put pressure on the sites in an attempt remove any potential misleading content churned out on social media.
Additionally, the judge said the evidence presented mainly was directed at conservative leaning content and that there was substantial evidence to support that this was a “far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign” which involved coercing the social sites with new regulatory liabilities and antitrust enforcement.
It’s alleged that content promoting negative views about the Hunter Biden laptop controversy, Covid-19 health measures like children vaccinations and mask mandates, the origins of the pandemic, election ballot criticism and other contentious topics were scrubbed from the social sites.
According to the lawyers on the case, the ruling is the first of its kind due to the far-reaching restrictions placed on how the federal government may relate and communicate with social platforms.
“[T]he evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” Doughty stated. “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,’” said the former appointee of President Donald Trump.
The judge in the Missouri v. Biden case, Terry Doughty of Louisiana, appearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in 2017. PHOTO: SEN. BILL CASSIDY, SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
While the Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey celebrated the ruling he described in an interview as the “most important First Amendment lawsuit in a generation” by tweeting, “What a way to celebrate Independence Day”.
In the Biden camp, the administration has formally denied any wrongdoing and the plaintiffs’ allegations in a brief formerly filed with the court and stated that the federal government acted in an appropriate manner to effectively manage pandemic misinformation and foreign efforts at election interference.
In a filed brief, the Justice Department stated, “The record in this case shows that the Federal Government promoted necessary and responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by a deadly pandemic and hostile foreign assaults on critical election infrastructure”.
Further, the department cautioned the injunction “would significantly hinder the Federal Government’s ability to combat foreign malign influence campaigns, prosecute crimes, protect the national security, and provide accurate information to the public on matters of grave public concern such as healthcare and election integrity.”
It is likely the Justice Department will attempt to overturn the injunction.
Despite the broad preliminary injunction limiting the federal government from social media interference, Doughty did assert that the order is not a comprehensive prohibition on government contact with social media organisations. The ruling allows agencies to inform social sites about misleading posts related to national security, voting ballot misinformation, criminal activity, and public-safety threats.
Attempting to ease any concerns of the ruling, Doughty stressed that the order does not prevent federal agencies from ”exercising permissible public government speech promoting government policies or views on matters of public concern”.
With the primary presidential election right around the corner, the ruling comes at a pivotal time and could heat up political tensions further as presidential nominees begin to ramp of campaigning.