Biden Administration To Appeal Judge’s Order Blocking Contact With Social Media Companies
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House July 5, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Biden administration revealed on Wednesday plans to appeal a judge’s order blocking several government agencies and officials from contacting social media companies.

Lawyers with the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, setting up a clash over U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s judgement on July 4.

Doughty, who was nominated to his position by former President Donald Trump, granted the injunction in a lawsuit brought in 2022 by the GOP attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri over alleged collusion between the federal government and social media companies to censor “disfavored” speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Although there has not been a final ruling in the case, the judge’s order restricts a number of officials and agencies from meeting or communicating with social media companies for the purpose of “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing” in any manner the “removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”

The injunction affects specific White House officials — including Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre — and agencies and certain officials within them ranging from the Homeland Security Department, to the Health and Human Services Department, to the DOJ and FBI. The order also lists some exceptions related to flagging criminal behavior, national security concerns, and election tampering.

As noted in an accompanying memorandum, the defendants in the case have argued they did not seek to coerce social media companies to clamp down on free speech, and efforts to flag posts were meant to fight disinformation or misinformation on certain issues — particularly COVID, but also election matters and the Hunter Biden laptop story — that would be left up to the social media platforms to regulate on their own terms.

The judge appears to disagree, writing that, “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.'”


Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey called the judge’s order “a huge win for the right to freely speak without government censorship.” He added, “We must build a wall of separation between tech and state to preserve our First Amendment right to free, fair, and open debate. Missouri will continue to lead the way in the fight to defend our most fundamental freedoms.”

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