Biden admin to appeal federal court ruling restricting their ability to censor free speech online

"Our view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take action or to take account of the effects of their platforms."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Wednesday, Biden’s Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a Louisiana federal court after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the administration likely violated the First Amendment with their efforts to censor and suppress Americans' free speech by colluding with social media companies.

According to Bloomberg, the Department of Justice’s filing signals the administration's intent to take the case up to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The department also plans to ask the court to put Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling on hold during the appeal, a person familiar with the matter told the outlet.

On Tuesday, Doughty blocked administration officials from contacting social media companies with the intention of censoring political views and other speech protected under the First Amendment.

"The evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario," wrote Judge Doughty. "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.’"

Doughty said the plaintiffs, Republican attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana, "have presented substantial evidence in support of their claims that they were the victims of a far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign."

The attorneys general alleged that the Biden administration was using a "federal censorship enterprise," and pressured social media platforms to remove posts questioning Covid-19 health policies, the origin of the pandemic, questions regarding the results of the 2020 election, the Hunter Biden laptop story, among other topics.

"If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history," the injunction adds. "In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech."

Doughty also wrote that "the censorship in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech," but added that the issues raised in the case extend "beyond party lines."

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in response to the ruling, "Our view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take action or to take account of the effects of their platforms."

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