In a significant ruling, federal judge Terry A. Doughty has barred Biden administration officials from collaborating with social media firms, accusing them of conspiring to curtail free speech. The decision was the preliminary outcome of a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general in Missouri and Louisiana, claiming that governmental authorities and social media corporations conspired to censor speech according to its content.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey tweeted, “The Court has granted our motion to BLOCK top officials in the federal government from violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans.” The lawsuit largely originates from the attempts to regulate social media posts on COVID-19 policy during the pandemic, which the attorneys general referred to as the most severe breaches of the First Amendment in U.S. history.
Although Doughty has not rendered a final verdict, he acknowledged that the plaintiffs had offered evidence of a “massive effort” by the Biden administration to “suppress speech based on its content,” albeit with exceptions for national security threats and criminal activities.
Bailey specified that the injunction virtually prohibits the entire federal government, including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, among others, from conspiring with social media companies.
This ruling follows years of controversy regarding Big Tech and government collaboration during the pandemic, with a notable instance being former White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitting to “flagging problematic posts for Facebook” in 2021. Bailey concluded on Twitter, “The federal government cannot be trusted to protect Americans’ rights, which is precisely why our Founders enshrined the First Amendment into the Constitution.”