Judge says Biden has 'no legal right' to censor content on social media, rejects DOJ's request to stay order limiting contact with big tech companies

Doughty argued that the defendants had "no legal right" to aggressively monitor content on such platforms, adding that the plaintiffs were likely to win the case.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Monday, a federal judge rejected the Biden administration's request to put a hold on an order that would prevent it from contacting social media companies in order to censor free speech. US District Judge Terry Doughty had originally sided with Republican plaintiffs from Missouri and Louisiana, issuing a Preliminary Injunction ealier this month in which he branded the federal government's plan as "almost dystopian." 

In his most recent ruling, Doughty argued that the defendants had "no legal right" to aggressively monitor content on such platforms, adding that the plaintiffs were likely to win the case.


"Although this Preliminary Injunction involves numerous agencies, it is not as broad as it appears," Doughty wrote in a 13-page explanation, noting that "it only prohibits something the Defendants have no legal right to do."

As CBS News reports, among the officials barred from communicating with social media companies are Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. 

He explained that in its request to stay the order, the Biden administration failed to cite specific actions that would "provide grave harm to the American people or over democratic processes" if not allowed to continue. 

Under the terms of the Preliminary Injunction, the federal government would still be allowed to "inform social-media companies of postings involving criminal activity, criminal conspiracies, national security threats, extortion, other threats, criminal efforts to suppress voting, providing illegal campaign contributions, cyber-attacks against election infrastructure, foreign attempts to influence elections, threats against the public safety or security of the United States, postings intending to mislead voters about voting requirements, procedures, preventing or mitigating malicious cyber activity, and ... speech not protected by the First Amendment."

Doughty, who was appointed under the Trump administration, went on to state that the plaintiffs were "likely to prove that all of the enjoined Defendants coerced, significantly encouraged, and/or jointly participated social-media companies to suppress social-media posts by American citizens that expressed opinions that were anti-COVID-19 vaccines, anti-COVID-19 lockdowns, posts that delegitimized or questioned the results of the 2020 election, and other content not subject to any exception to the First Amendment."

The Biden administration has appealed Doughty's earlier ruling.

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