On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment in its contact with social media companies to censor content and criticism during the Covid pandemic.
US District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana, in a 155-page ruling, blocked officials within the White House and multiple federal agencies from contacting social media companies with the intention of censoring political views and other speech protected under the First Amendment, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"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, according to Fox News. "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."
"Viewpoint discrimination is an especially egregious form of content discrimination," Doughty wrote. "The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction."
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